David Katzeek, second from right, speaks during a public ceremony at the Walter Soboleff Center Tuesday for the return of a Chilkat robe recently acquired on eBay. Sealaska Heritage Institute purchased the robe in November from eBay seller George Blucker of Texas who willingly took a loss on the sale so the piece could be repatriated to the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.

David Katzeek, second from right, speaks during a public ceremony at the Walter Soboleff Center Tuesday for the return of a Chilkat robe recently acquired on eBay. Sealaska Heritage Institute purchased the robe in November from eBay seller George Blucker of Texas who willingly took a loss on the sale so the piece could be repatriated to the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.

Ceremony celebrates Chilkat blanket’s return

They were there to see an ancestor.

On Tuesday afternoon, more than 50 Southeast residents gathered at the clan house in the Walter Soboleff Building to celebrate the Southeast Alaska return of a Chilkat blanket sent by a collector in Texas.

Rosita Worl, president of Sealaska Heritage Institute, said the return was a moment of sorrow and joy — sorrow because it had been absent for so long and joy because it had returned.

In the 19th century, disease and the deliberate suppression of Native culture disrupted Alaska Native communities, ending the teacher-learner chain that led to the production of Alaska Native items.

Collectors bought or stole surviving items, leaving Alaska Native clans and tribes with few ways to connect to their heritage.

In recent years, organizations including SHI have attempted to return items to tribes across Alaska. Once returned, they can be used in ceremonies or reverse-engineered to learn the unique techniques employed in their construction.

In many cases, those techniques were the product of individual weavers who each took different approaches to their work.

People attending a public ceremony Tuesday at the Walter Soboleff Center get a close up view of a Chilkat robe recently acquired on eBay by the Sealaska Heritage Institute.

People attending a public ceremony Tuesday at the Walter Soboleff Center get a close up view of a Chilkat robe recently acquired on eBay by the Sealaska Heritage Institute.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 26

Here’s what to expect this week.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Road to Majority conference Friday, June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. A rally planned to include Trump is scheduled to happen in Anchorage on July 9.  (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey File)
Trump to rally for Palin, Dunleavy, Tshibaka in Anchorage

Former President Donald Trump plans to attend a rally in Alaska next week.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, June 30, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Courtesy Photo / Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy 
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday signed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Gov. Dunleavy signs budget

PFD of about $3,200, $400 million in vetoes to Legislature-approved items among declared highlights

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 29, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Dept. of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, 320 W. Willoughby Ave., will be open as a cooling center through Wednesday for elders who need a cool place during the ongoing heatwave. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Tlingit and Haida opens cooling center for elders

Keep your cool during the heatwave.

An Alaska Seaplanes Cessna 208A, seen here on the tarmac, suffered damage after failing to achieve takeoff near Elfin Cove on Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Alaska Seaplanes)
No one hurt after plane’s takeoff goes awry

The aircraft failed to achieve take off and hit the beach while leaving Elfin Cove.

A 13-year-old girl was medevaced Saturday after being struck by a vehicle near the crosswalk across Egan Drive by Gold Creek. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Teen in serious condition after SUV strikes bike

Juneau Police Department is investigating.

Most Read