The regalia and other belongings which has been housed in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter since 1878, include a buckskin shirt, pair of leggings, a knife with feather bundle, two beaded bags and a horsewhip. The objects once belonged to Chief Crowfoot, an important late 19th century Blackfoot leader.
Chief Ouray Crowfoot and a delegation from the Siksika Nation in Canada have taken possession of sacred regalia in an emotional handover event in Exeter.
The regalia and other belongings which has been housed in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter since 1878, include a buckskin shirt, pair of leggings, a knife with feather bundle, two beaded bags and a horsewhip.
The objects once belonged to Chief Crowfoot, an important late 19th century Blackfoot leader.
Following a blessing at the museum, the regalia will be packed and returned to Canada, where it will be redisplayed in the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, a museum focussing on Siksika cultural heritage and the preservation of their way of life.
Exeter City Councillors voted unanimously to return the regalia in April 2020, but Covid travel restrictions have meant that it is only now possible to complete the repatriation.
Cllr Laura Wright, the Council’s Deputy Leader, said she was proud to return the items to the Siksika Nation after they were housed in Exeter for more than 140 years.
She said: “I feel very honoured to be here today to see the current Chief Crowfoot and his Council, members of his family and the Blackfoot people here in Exeter to receive back into their ownership the artefacts that are here.
“I feel so humbled and honoured to be part of the welcome, and to see everything going back to where it should be.
“We are in a very privileged position as elected councillors to make decisions, and seeing the effect that sometimes your decisions can have - being so huge as we saw today - is very humbling for me, and I am just so pleased to have been here to see this happen.”
Chief Crowfoot thanked the RAMM and the City Council for returning the items.
He said: “Bringing these items back home to Siksika is a historic event. Many items left Siksika and other Nations and were scattered across the globe.
“Now the tides are turning and these items are finding their way back home. Crowfoot’s entire essence is in and around Blackfoot territory and this is where his belongings should be housed.
“We are building strong relationships with curators at several museums as well as private collectors in an effort to bring items such as the ones coming home back to their rightful place. There are many more Blackfoot items still in need of being claimed and repatriated back to their rightful homeland.”