B.C. First Nation buys back 140-year-old robe, paying almost $40,000 to bring it home

ATLIN, B.C. — A man who is helping return a 140-year-old Tlingit robe to the British Columbia First Nation where it was created says it’s as if the regalia called out to its people and they are bringing it home.

The intricately woven Chilkat robe, made of mountain goat wool and yellow cedar bark, has been purchased by the Taku River Tlingit First Nation in northwestern B.C. for almost $40,000 after it went up for sale at a Toronto auction house.

It’s arriving in Whitehorse today before travelling 175 kilometres south to the First Nation’s traditional territory in Atlin, B.C., where it’s expected to go on display and may be used in future ceremonies. 

Tlingit elder and master carver Wayne Carlick says his heart “probably exploded” when he saw the robe online and recognized its close connection to his community.

He says getting the robe back is exciting and emotional, and a chance for the younger generation to learn about the First Nation’s art, history and resilience.

The nation’s spokesperson says in a statement that they are overjoyed that a piece of their heritage is being returned but it’s unacceptable that any First Nation should have to buy back its stolen property.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023

The Canadian Press

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