One of the three paddles reported missing, seen in action during the Glacier Valley Elementary School's 2008 production of “Tides and the Tempest."

One of the three paddles reported missing, seen in action during the Glacier Valley Elementary School's 2008 production of “Tides and the Tempest."

Native art goes missing from Juneau elementary school

When librarian Kaye Peters walked into the Glacier Valley Elementary School library the morning of Feb. 9, she noticed two corner bookshelves were out of place.

Then she realized something else.

“I was sitting at my desk and looked over and noticed the walls were blank,” she said.

Three Tlingit paddles about three feet long were missing. Peters said they were hanging about 10 feet high on the wall and figured whoever took them must’ve climbed on the bookshelves. A 4-foot-tall Tlingit walking stick with a wolf head was also missing.

Glacier Valley students made these items for the 2008 production of “Tides and the Tempest,” and they had been hanging on the library wall ever since.

The fifth item that was missing was an Iñupiaq mask from Barrow.

“Everything that was taken was pretty priceless to us here at Glacier Valley,” Peters said. “These were children’s art work that we had. It’s just really sad. That little Iñupiaq mask, I purchased my first year of teaching. I taught up in Barrow, Alaska. So that was pretty special to our family.”

Peters said she felt violated. “The students are upset as well,” she said.

Peters has no idea how the items were taken. The door to the library locks automatically when it’s shut. The day before the items went missing, Peters had left the library around 3:20 p.m. Two afterschool programs took place at the library until 5 p.m. None of the adults in charge noticed anything out of the ordinary, Peters said.

Later that evening, a Community School program took place in the gym. An adult who stands guard until around 9 p.m. didn’t notice anyone coming in or out of the library, Peters said.

“After that, there shouldn’t be anyone in here,” she said.

Peters said the school’s maintenance staff checked the school’s surveillance video and hasn’t come up with anything. There are no cameras inside the library, there’s no window access and there was no activity in the video of the back door of the library.

Peters has posted information on the missing items on the Juneau Community Concern Facebook page, which has been shared nearly 100 times. She also reported the theft to the Juneau Police Department. Peters and Glacier Valley teachers have talked to the students and asked if anyone knows anything.

No one has come forward.

“So far nothing,” Peters said. “No leads. It’s quite a mystery.”

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