In March I visited the Portland Art Museum along with some clan relatives and Aandeyein to view and handle Naanyaa.aayí at.óowu, Teikhweidi at.óowu and Raven (probaly Kiks.ádi) at.óowu dating back to the 1800’s. NAGPRA claims are in process or planned for many of these objects to return them to their ancerstral homes in Lingít Aaní. These items are our title to the land and proof of our legitimacy as sovereign Tlingit clans.
The process of assimilation was strong and deliberate during the 1800’s and 1900’s. Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people were forced to give up clan allegiances and our tribal way of life in order to receive the protection of the United States government. Our at.óowu was seperated from the people and placed in museums, symbolically burying our culture alive. Returning these objects to their respective clans is a reversal of this process and a revolutionary act.
Raven Staff. Probably Kiks.ádi, the clan from which my clan, the Teeyhíttaan, originates. — at Portland Art Museum.
Naanyaa.aayí club. — at Portland Art Museum.
Mother in Law Mask. Naanyaa.aayí. Notice the lip plate piercing. — at Portland Art Museum.
Naanyaa.aayi Chilkat Robe. Mimics the house screen in Chief Shakes Tribal House. See here: http://1.usa.gov/1LQT1Uo — at Portland Art Museum.
Teikhweidi from Yakutat. Chilkat Tunic. — at Portland Art Museum.
Mud Shark Hat. Naanyaa.aayí at.óowu. — at Portland Art Museum.
Today is Free Nations Day.
Free Nations Day is an opportunity to reclaim the idea that nations are voluntary groupings of free individuals, not externally imposed political borders or states. Both geographic localities and identities that transcend space are legitimate entities with the right to decide their own ways of life.
Courtesy of Tlingit Readers Inc.; produced by the late Andrew Hope III
Lingít Aaní, or the Tlingit Nation if you will, is a tribal nation captive by and split between two externally imposed states and their borders: the US and Canada. Hundreds, if not thousands of cultural groups, linguistic groups, tribes, and other nations join us in this common experience: captivity and division in our own lands. We are the captive nations of the world.
Lately Kurdistan, Catalonia and Scotland have been making the news in their struggle for freedom. Let the world also know that the Tlingit people are a nation, too, divided and surrounded by political borders that were not our making. Let the world know of the hundreds of tribes and tribal Nations in North America that suffer a similar fate. Happy Free Nations Day, and decolonize Lingít Aaní!