Portland Museum repatriates nine Tlingit items

Items 1-3: X’átgu S’aaxw/mudshark hat; X’átgu Koodás’/mudshark shirt; Ditlein X’oow/killer whale stranded on a rock robe. According to Portland Art Museum records, former Schools Superintendent Axel Rasmussen obtained the hat and shirt in 1930 from a family member of Chief Shakes VI who died in 1915, and in 1934 he obtained the robe from another family member in Wrangell. According to oral traditional information presented by the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes, these items were removed by Wrangell police after the death of a Mrs. Kunk.

Item 4: Keet S’aaxw/killer whale hat. According to museum records, on April 23, 1934, Rasmussen obtained the hat from a family member of Chief Shakes VI.

Item 5: Keet kuwool/killer whale fin. According to museum records, this wooden fin was first obtained by Andrew Wanamaker in 1933, and subsequently sold to Rasmussen.

Item 6: Keet Naaxein/killer whale flotilla Chilkat robe. Museum records indicate that in 1936, Rasmussen obtained the robe from Esther Johnson Orcutt. Photographic evidence of clan ownership is provided by a 1913 photograph in the collection of the Anchorage Museum of History and Art entitled “Coonk Shakes, Nephew of a Great Chief of Wrangell,” in which the robe appears next to other clan property, and a 1900 photograph showing the clan house panel from which the robe design was adopted.

Item 7: X’átgu Koodás’/mudshark shirt. Museum records indicate that in 1934, Rasmussen obtained the shirt from William James, of Wrangell. According to the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes, James was the son of L’axdujeek, a “tribal” sister of Charlie Jones, aka Chief Shakes VII, and was not from the Naanya.aayi clan.

Item 8: X’átgu Koodás’/mudshark shirt with dentalia shells. Museum records indicate that in 1931, Rasmussen obtained the shirt from Charlie Jones, of Wrangell. The 1931 sale occurred before Jones was installed as Chief Shakes (in 1940).

Item 9: Geet Shakee.at/storm headdress. According to the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes, this headdress was captured from the Tsimshian during a battle near the mouth of the Stikine River. Imbued with the words of “spirit songs,” it was worn by the ixt’ (shaman) in ceremonial dance. Photographs from ca.1890 and 1913 show the headdress in the clan house together with other clan property. Museum records indicate that in 1931, Charlie Jones sold the headdress to Rasmussen.

 

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