FR Doc E7-16785
[Federal Register: August 24, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 164)]
[Page 48671]
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 definition of "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 is not responsible for the 
determinations in this notice.
    The cultural item is a Killerwhale Flotilla Chilkat Robe, which is 
also called a blanket, as the two terms are used interchangeably to 
describe the item (A705.1). The robe is a shoulder blanket style in a 
two-dimensional flat textile widely rectangular at the top and sides 
and sloping at the base toward the center, so that it is broadly 
shield-shaped. The fabric was created by means of twined weaving in 
handspun mountain goat wool and yellow cedar bark, which is a technique 
known as Chilkat twining from its specialty production by Chilkat 
Tlingit women. The robe is draped loosely over the shoulders, falling 
to mid-legs and tied across the chest with sewn-on ties or held closed 
with the hands. The white design field of the entire blanket is filled 
with twelve black bordered rectangular segments, each containing a 
stylized side-view killerwhale motif featuring a prominent fin on the 
back. Black form lines enclose and detail the X-ray views of whale ribs 
and body parts, highlighted with natural dyed yellow and green. The 
whale heads are toward the blanket center. A wide black border 
encircles the blanket. Long fringes of alternating white and green 
twisted wool and cedar bark sections rim the side and basal edges.
    In approximately 1890, the cultural item was made by a master 
weaver, a woman named Cacaydayat, during the succession of Gush Tlein 
as Shakes VI (1878-1916). After the death of Shakes VI in 1916, the 
robe passed in valid succession to Shakes VII, Charlie Jones or 
X'adaaneik and Kaax'eishge, though not formally recognized in ceremony 
until 1940. Sometime before his death in 1944, Shakes VII sold the robe 
to Mr. Waters, a dentist from Seattle, WA, although museum records 
state that the robe was sold "around 1945-46." Mrs. Amy K. Churchill 
of Wrangell, AK, whose father James Bradley was a claimant to the 
Shakes VIII title, but neither one a Naanya'aayi Clan member, purchased 
the robe from Mr. Waters at an unknown date after 1944. Mrs. Emma Frost 
of Oregon City, OR, inherited the robe from her mother Mrs. Churchill 
around 1965. In August 1973, Mrs. Frost sold the robe to Michael R. 
Johnson and Sharon M. Johnson, collectors and art dealers of Bellevue, 
WA. In October 1973, Mr. and Mrs. Kernon Weckbaugh of Denver, CO, 
purchased the robe from the Johnsons and donated the robe to the 
    During consultation, representatives of the Central Council of 
Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes gave evidence of the robe as clan 
"treasured property" and also recounted its place in clan belief and 
ceremonial practice. The robe is identified as an item of Chilkat 
regalia among the most valued of ceremonial clothing used in funerary 
rites and is high status apparel at traditional ceremonies and 
potlatches. The robe is required for the ceremonial rites conducted to 
renew and ensure the spiritual harmony of the Tlingit people. The 
Clan's right of possession was explained at length through a line of 
family-member caretakers succeeding Shakes VI, as well as unauthorized 
holders. Earlier Killerwhale Robes of the Clan, not traced explicitly, 
would have been associated with the lineage of Shakes chiefs. The robe 
is not owned by a single individual, instead there are designated 
caretakers and belongs to the clan as a whole, and therefore it could 
not have been alienated by a single individual. The clan that takes 
care of the robe and this particular Killerwhale pattern is the 
Naanya.aayi Clan, represented in this claim by the Central Council of 
Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes.
    Officials of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science have determined 
that, pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 3001 (3)(D), the one cultural item 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 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 object of cultural patrimony should 
contact Dr. Stephen Nash, Chair, Department of Anthropology, Denver 
Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, Denver, CO 80205, 
telephone (303) 370-6056, before September 24, 2007. Repatriation of 
the cultural item to the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian 
Tribes on behalf of the Naanya.aayi Clan 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: August 8, 2007.
Sherry Hutt,
Manager, National NAGPRA Program.
[FR Doc. E7-16785 Filed 8-23-07; 8:45 am]


Back to the top