Following an initial repatriation request from UNESCO World Heritage Site nominee Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park in 2015, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery approached the chief of the Siksika Nation in January 2020 to discuss a formal handover.
The chief, Ouray Crowfoot, has since confirmed that the Siksika Tribal Council is prepared to take ownership of the artefacts and made assurances about the long-term care of the regalia.
“When considering the claim for repatriation, the council recognised that the original injustices still reverberate today with First Nation Canadians,” explains Councillor Rachel Sutton, Exeter City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Climate and Culture.
“Giving back Crowfoot’s regalia returns control to the Siksika Nation over their cultural identity, dignity and authority and is the right thing to do.”
The items set for repatriation include a buckskin shirt, pair of leggings, a knife with feather bundle, two beaded bags, and a horsewhip. All the items once belonged to Chief Crowfoot, an important late nineteenth-century Blackfoot leader.
Once Covid-19 lockdown measures are lifted, the present day chief will visit Exeter to take part in an official ceremony to hand over the items. Once back in Canada, the Siksika Tribal Council will loan the items to Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park.
“The returning of this regalia will contribute to healing and reconciliation and the Great Chief’s spirit can rest easy once all his belonging are gathered from the four corners of Mother Earth and returned back to his home,” notes Chief Ouray Crowfoot.
“The Siksika Nation will lend Chief Crowfoot’s belongings to Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park for display and the education of all peoples around their significance as part of world history, together with their journey to the UK and their return to the chief’s traditional homelands.”