Home Artifacts Report: Artifacts returned by Portland Museum belong to the Naanya.aayí clan in Wrangell

Report: Artifacts returned by Portland Museum belong to the Naanya.aayí clan in Wrangell


Michael Hoyt and Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art, stand next to the killer whale hat at a Portland Art Museum event in May recognizing the repatriation of Wrangell Tlingit artifacts.

Wrangell, Alaska (Wrangell Sentinel) – Twenty years ago, the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska asked the Portland Art Museum to return nine objects that had been taken from the Naanya.aayí clan in Wrangell ago almost 100 years.

Among them are a mudshark hat and shirt, a beached killer whale on a rock robe, a killer whale hat, a killer whale with a holed wooden fin, a killer whale flotilla Chilkat robe, two mudshark shirts and a headdress the clan says was captured from the Tsimshian in a battle near the mouth of the Stikine River, according to a Federal Register listing that the museum intended to return the items.

They are “at.óww”, which means they belong to the whole clan.

They were a small part of a collection of over 800 Aboriginal items that a former superintendent of the Wrangell Schools had purchased or received in the early 20th century.

Descriptions of his acquisitions show that he generally purchased or acquired them from people within or related to the clan, although at least one shirt came to him through someone not not to the clan.

But when the Tlingit and Haida made their request, on behalf of the Naanya.aayí clan and the Wrangell Cooperative Association, they argued that no one should have been able to sell or dispose of the clan’s assets – the objects are sacred and they are cultural. patrimony, that is to say that they belong to all members of the clan.

Learn more here.

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