anonymous donor who wanted his collection of Native cultural objects
to go home has given 15 pieces that date at least to the early 1900s
to Sealaska Heritage Institute.
collection includes some very important ceremonial pieces, said
SHI President Rosita Worl.
was absolutely stunned at the collection. I did not know that it
would have these very significant pieces a clan hat, three
rattles very magnificent pieces."
institute was not able to obtain provenance on the pieces, but the
hat may be a couple of hundred years old. The only piece that has
a date on it is a very unusual wall hanging apparently made of ducks
with beading that reads "Sitka 1909."
donor was from Michigan and gave the collection to a Native woman
in the Lower 48 with instructions to send it home to the
Native people of Southeast Alaska, Worl said.
have absolutely no information other than what the collector said
that it was from Southeast Alaska, they were Tlingit objects
and he wanted them to be returned home."
unusual for private donors to return objects to Native people because
such collections often fetch large sums of money at auction. The
objects especially the ceremonial pieces are important
to Native people and are considered to be much more than art, said
Worl, noting ceremonial or sacred objects are called at.óow
a real tangible tie for us to our ancestors."
Heritage Institute is a regional nonprofit serving the Tlingit,
Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. Its mission is to
perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures.