FR Doc E6-1275
[Federal Register: February 1, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 21)]
[Page 5363-5364]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



National Park Service

Notice of Intent to Repatriate a Cultural Item: Denver Museum of 
Nature & Science, Denver, CO
AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice.
    Notice is here given in accordance with the Native American Graves 
Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), 25 U.S.C. 3005, of the intent 
to repatriate a cultural item in the possession of the Denver Museum of 
Nature & Science, Denver, CO, which meets the definitions of "sacred 
object" and "object of cultural patrimony" under 25 U.S.C. 3001.
    This notice is published as part of the National Park Service's 
administrative responsibilities under NAGPRA, 25 U.S.C. 3003 (d)(3). 
The determinations in this notice are the sole responsibility of the 
museum, institution, or Federal agency that has control of the cultural 
items. The National Park Service in not responsible for the 
determinations in this notice.
    The cultural item is a beaded button blanket called ``Killerwhale 
Jumping Over the Reef Robe'' (A.C. 11517). The garment in Tlingit 
language and usage is called a ``robe,'' and translated as a ``button 
blanket'' in English, and the two terms are used interchangeably to 
describe the cultural item.
    According to notes, an unknown woman at an unknown date made the 
robe in honor of the supernatural event

[[Page 5364]]

depicted, for Gus'kooskaan, who had it until his death around 1880. 
From Gus'kooskaan, the robe was passed to Gusht'eiheen, who had it at 
his death around 1908. The robe was then passed to Daanaawu, Archie 
Bell, and then finally to Xaalgen, Annie Jacobs in 1942. In 1974, Annie 
Jacobs and Mark Jacobs, Sr., sold the robe to Michael R. Johnson, a 
collector and art dealer in Seattle, WA. In 1975, Mrs. Mary W. A. Crane 
purchased the robe from Mr. Johnson and gifted it to the Denver Museum 
of Natural History (now the Denver Museum of Nature & Science) to 
enhance the Crane American Indian Collection's Northwest Coast 
materials. The museum accessioned the robe into the collection later 
that same year.
    The male or female one-piece rectangular garment is worn as a robe 
draped around the shoulders over other clothing, with the continuous 
border at the top, the design centered on the back, and the bordered 
opening falling down the wearer's chest to the legs. The robe is made 
of black woolen cloth with a broad red woolen cloth top and side 
borders outlined on the inside with three rows of sewn-on pearl 
buttons. The button-and-bead design on the robe's dark woolen cloth 
depicts the Killerwhale clan ancestor jumping over a reef in Chatham 
Strait near the seafront of Angoon, AK. It is centered with a large 
outlined design of a dorsal-finned whale, in-filled with ribcage and 
crouched human figures, which curves over a humanoid face and floral 
motifs. The design is worked in white seed bead lane embroidery, a few 
yellow and purple bead outlines, large and small pearl buttons along 
the spine, and appliqued red cloth features outlined in beads.
    Edward K. Thomas, President of the Central Council Tlingit & Haida 
Indian Tribes of Alaska, provided detailed written and photographic 
documentation of the robe's history as early as 1910 and its 
significance and ownership by the Dakl'aweidi clan. Mr. Thomas 
explained the clan's right to a particular killerwhale crest and 
clarified several crucial matters of crest ownership and use, and the 
function of designated caretakers of clan property. Ms. Lydia George, a 
representative of the Dakl'aweidi clan, of Killerwhale House, Angoon, 
AK, spoke of the story associated with the robe during a consultation 
and repatriation at the museum in June 1997.
    The cultural item is both a sacred object needed by traditional 
Native Alaskan leaders and an object of cultural patrimony. In 
depicting the clan crest, the Keet or Killerwhale, the robe embodies 
the Keet Yelk or Spirit of the Killerwhale, in particular, the 
Killerwhale Jumping Over the Reef. It bonds clan members in a kinship 
and spiritual relationship to Killerwhale, particularly to this 
Killerwhale event, and to their ancestors who paid for the crest. The 
object is required for the ceremonial rites conducted to renew and 
ensure the spiritual harmony of the Tlingit people. The robe is not 
owned by a single individual, instead there are designated caretakers 
of the robe, and it belongs to the clan as a whole, and therefore it 
could not have been alienated by a single individual.
    Officials of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science have determined 
that, pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 3001 (3)(C), the button blanket is a 
specific ceremonial object needed by traditional Native American 
religious leaders for the practice of traditional Native American 
religions by their present-day adherents. Officials of the Denver 
Museum of Nature & Science have also determined that, pursuant to 25 
U.S.C. 3001 (3)(D), the button blanket has ongoing historical, 
traditional, or cultural importance central to the Native American 
group or culture itself, rather than property owned by an individual. 
Officials of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science also have determined 
that, pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 3001 (2), there is a relationship of shared 
group identity which can be reasonably traced between the sacred 
object/object of cultural patrimony and the Central Council of the 
Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes.
    Representatives of any other Indian tribe that believes itself to 
be culturally affiliated with the sacred object/object of cultural 
patrimony should contact Dr. Steven Holen, Head of the Anthropology 
Department, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, 
Denver, CO 80205, telephone (303) 370-8261, before March 3, 2006. 
Repatriation of the sacred object/object of cultural patrimony to the 
Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes on behalf of the 
Dakl'aweidi Clan of the Killerwhale House, Angoon, AK, may proceed 
after that date if no additional claimants come forward.
    The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is responsible for notifying 
the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes that this 
notice has been published.

    Dated: December 30, 2005
Sherry Hutt,
Manager, National NAGPRA Program.
[FR Doc. E6-1275 Filed 1-31-06; 8:45 am]


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