Native American Headdress Reclaimed From Museum

By Penny Parkin | 08 July 2003
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Shows a photograph of a man handing over a sacred artefact, which is wrapped in a cloth to three Native Canadians.

Photo: the headdress cannot be photographed or displayed, so it nestles within a special wrap for transit. © John McKenzie Mcintosh, University Of Aberdeen

The Blood Tribe of Southern Alberta, Canada, will be able to perform its ceremonial rituals once more now that a ceremonial headdress has been returned.

The headdress is horned with an eagle feather trailer and according to custom cannot be photographed or displayed. It's one of four artefacts vital to the tribe's ritual tradition, but it had lain neglected in a Scottish museum for 20 years before its return yesterday.

Several members of the Blood Tribe flew in specially to retrieve the headdress and performed a ceremonial ritual at the Marischal Museum at the University of Aberdeen to commemorate its return.

shows tribe members cradling their vital artefact.

Photo: tribe members cradle their vital artefact before the flight home. Photo:

© Jonathon McDonnell/Northscot Press Agency

Tribe members had identified the headdress after a visit to Aberdeen in November last year and subsequently submitted a request for its repatriation. It seems that the headdress was amongst items legitimately purchased along with several other items from the North American Plains in the 1920s by an Aberdeen woman.

Randy Bottle, a member of the tribe's Horn Society said, "this will ensure that future generations can continue the practices and teachings which are important to our people."

He added that it was very important for the tribe to have recovered the headdress so that they could complete their summer sun dance.

Neil Curtis, the Marischal Museum's senior curator added: "It was clear that the headdress was extremely important to them. They compared it to one of the books of the Bible being missing."

His decision to return the headdress has earnt him the honour of been invited to observe the sun dance at first hand in Canada. A collection of the Blood tribe's cultural material will also be winging its way to Aberdeen next year.

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