Chief Ouray Crowfoot and a delegation from the Siksika Nation in Canada took possession of the sacred regalia during a handover event at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter.
Following a blessing at the museum last week, the badges will be packaged and returned to Canada, where they will be redisplayed in Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, a museum focused on the cultural heritage of the Siksika and the preservation of their way of life. life.
The regalia and other personal effects, which have been kept at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter since 1878, include a buckskin shirt, a pair of leggings, a knife with a bundle of feathers, two beaded bags and a whip. These items once belonged to Chief Crowfoot, an important late 19th century Blackfoot leader.
The geographic area holds great spiritual significance to the Siksika Nation and Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park is built on the site of the signing of the Blackfoot Treaty, also known as Treaty 7, in September 1877.
Exeter councilors voted unanimously to return the badges in April 2020, but Covid travel restrictions meant it was only recently possible to complete the repatriation.
Jon-Paul Hedge, Director of Exeter City Council with responsibilities including the museum, said: “Having agreed to this momentous milestone over two years ago, we are now delighted to return the Crowfoot regalia to the nation. Siksika. We hope this will mark the start of an ongoing relationship between Exeter and the Siksika people.
Chief Crowfoot said, “Bringing these items back to Siksika is a historic event. Many items left Siksika and other nations and were scattered around the world.
“Now the tides are turning and these items are finding their way home. All of Crowfoot’s essence is found in and around Blackfoot Territory and it is where his possessions should be housed.
“We are building strong relationships with curators at several museums as well as private collectors with the goal of bringing items like these coming home to their rightful place.
“There are many more Blackfoot items that have yet to be claimed and repatriated to their rightful homelands. For me, how these items left Siksika is not as important, but what is important is how we bring them home.
The Siksika Nation will lend Chief Crowfoot’s possessions to Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park for the display and education of all people around their significance in world history, as well as their journey to the United Kingdom and their return to the chief’s traditional native lands.