Public invited to attend event
Published November 28, 2015
JUNEAU— Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will hold a public ceremony for the return of a sacred Chilkat robe recently acquired on eBay.
The ceremony will take place at 1:30 on Tuesday, December 1, at the Walter Soboleff Building. Eagle and Raven representatives will lead the event, which is free and open to the public.
SHI purchased the robe in November from an eBay seller, who willingly took a loss on the sale so the piece could be repatriated to the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. SHI had hoped to fly seller George Blucker to Juneau from Texas for the event, but ticket prices were cost prohibitive due to the Thanksgiving travel season. The institute instead has offered to fly him here in June for Celebration 2016, a major, biennial dance-and-culture festival sponsored by SHI.
“Most of the time people see Chilkat robes only in museums or other exhibits, but they are a sacred, living part of our culture. Mr. Blucker will be able to see that first-hand at Celebration, where people dance their Chilkat robes,” Worl said.
The robe appears to be a funerary object because of the frayed edges at the top where it may have been attached to a plank that was placed above a gravesite. The fraying has made the weft and warp visible, which will allow artists to examine the materials and technique the weaver used. SHI is planning sessions for weavers and artists to study the robe. It was first thought to be a Raven design, but it might be a Hawk, Eagle or Thunderbird, according to experts. There is no record associating it with a clan or community. It measures just over five feet wide. SHI purchased the robe with assistance from donors, who were invited to the ceremony.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private, nonprofit founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.