The wearer of this necklace is shaman and camp leader. It signifies authority and supernatural power, commanding respect and obedience from the rest of the camp's inhabitants.
In the film, the necklace is bestowed upon three generations of leaders through blood and murder. It passes from the first camp leader, Kumaglak, who is killed in the presence of the evil shaman, to his overly-ambitious son, Sauri. Sauri, too, is then murdered by his own son, Oki - the last in this ruthless lineage to wear the walrus-tooth necklace.