Sealaska Heritage Institute said Wednesday that it has acquired a sacred Chilkat robe from an eBay seller who willingly took a loss on the transaction so the piece could be repatriated to the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples.
“We’ve watched in sorrow before as our sacred objects at auction have commanded prices beyond our reach. But this time we were able to quickly raise some funds, and we were dealing with a very honorable seller,” SHI president Rosita Worl said in a statement.
Tribal members alerted SHI about the auction on Monday. SHI was able to raise the reserve amount of $14,500 through donors, and staff contacted the seller, George Blucker, asking him to sell the robe to SHI at the reserve price and immediately end the auction due to the significance of the piece.
After researching SHI and learning that the robe was sacred, Blucker opted to sell at the reserve price.
“When I found out that it had religious significance and it had a spiritual presence, that’s when I thought I would put it where it should go,” said Blucker, who purchased the blanket at a flea market in Illinois 25 years ago.
SHI plans to convene a group of weavers to study the robe.