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Museum returning sacred artifacts to indigenous people

"The tides are turning and these items are finding their way back home."

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By Ed Cullinane via SWNS

A British museum is returning sacred artifacts to indigenous Canadians that it bought from a chief more than 100 years ago.

Chief Crowfoot's Shirt. (David Garner via SWNS)

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Devon paid just £10 ($12.34 US) in 1904 for items that once belonged to Crowfoot of the Blackfoot Nation.

Crowfoot of the Blackfoot Nation circa 1885 (Wikimedia Commons)

These included a buckskin shirt and leggings, a deer hide necklace strung with grizzly bear claws and a hardwood bow and arrow.

On Thursday (May 19) the artifacts will be returned to their ancestral home in Canada.

Chief Ouray Crowfoot and a delegation from the Siksika Nation in Canada will travel to England to take possession of the items.

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.

Horsewhip. (David Garner via SWNS)

The museum is built on the site where the 'Blackfoot Treaty' was signed in 1877, and aims to preserve Siksika cultural heritage.

The location is also where the former owner of the items, Chief Crowfoot, died and is buried.

As of 2021, the Siksika registered population is 7,565, with 4,136 living on the reserve where the museum is based.

Chief Crowfoot's Leggings. (David Garner via SWNS)

The handover comes after years of campaigning by the tribe to return the items, which initially saw the Exeter museum claim the Blackfoot could not preserve the delicate pieces.

Chief Crowfoot 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.

"To me, it is not as important how these items left Siksika, but what is important is how we bring them back home.”

Crowfoot's leggings, a buckskin shirt, a feather bundle and a knife. (David Garner via SWNS)

Jon-Paul Hedge, Exeter City Council’s director with responsibilities including the museum, added: “After agreeing on this momentous step more than two years ago, we are now pleased to return Crowfoot’s regalia to the Siksika Nation.

"We hope it marks the start of an ongoing relationship between Exeter and the Siksika people.”

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