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By Dan Rudy 

Ceremony to mark return of clan hat

 


The Kaach.ádi and Deisheetaan Raven clans will be hosting a celebration in Wrangell tomorrow, marking the return of the Kaach.ádi Xixch’i S’aaxw Frog Hat.

Overlaid with copper and abalone shell, and decorated with ermine skins and woven rings, the ceremonial hat is nearly two centuries old. For much of the 20th century it was thought to be lost, after being acquired by a collector and former Wrangell shopkeeper, Fred Carlyon, and his sister, Anna Vaughn. The hat resurfaced in 1959, after being donated to the Oakland Museum of California by Vaughn’s daughter.

It remained on display there for many years, until the Tlingit and Haida Central Council (CCTHITA) submitted a repatriation claim on behalf of the Kaach.ádi Raven clan in 2008. After providing evidence of the hat’s identity through photographs and oral history, the museum approved its repatriation in 2013. It was returned to CCTHITA in Juneau last November, where it has awaited formal transfer to its home in Wrangell.

The hat is said to represent the history and pride of its clan, which migrated down the Naas and Stikine rivers and settled in Telegraph Creek, Wrangell and Kake.

A traditional potlatch will be held tomorrow to commemorate members of both Kaach.ádi and Deisheetaan Raven clans who have passed on before the hat’s return. The commemoration will be co-hosted by the Deisheetaan, and the history of the two Wrangell clans and their crests will be told during the ceremony.

 

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