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

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

A lamb-decorated headstone lays half hidden in a cemetery section in Douglas on Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Shaky deals from past haunt efforts to preserve Douglas cemeteries today

As volunteers struggle to clear brush at historic sites, city leaders say they have limited options.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, May 17, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 16, 2024

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

Students and staff play a kickball game on the field between the Marie Drake Building and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
School district leaders debate biggest needs for extra $5.2M approved by Legislature, in hope governor won’t veto it

Staff for special education and gifted students, homeschooling, paying off city loan high on list.

Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, speaks Wednesday, May 8, on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
After several deadly drownings, Alaska Legislature votes to require harbor safety ladders

Bill by Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, passes on final day of session.

Members of the Thunder Mountain High School culinary arts team prepare their three-course meal during the National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore on April 26-28. (Photo by Rebecca Giedosh-Ruge)
TMHS culinary arts team serves a meal of kings at national competition

Five students who won state competition bring Alaskan crab and salmon to “Top Chef”-style event.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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

Most Read