Killer Whale Headdress


John Swanton, an ethnologist with the Bureau of American Ethnology, purchased this headdress in 1904 in Sitka while carrying out research in Tlingit language and oral traditions. He reported that it was "worn as a true emblem by Gushteheen" of the Daklaweidee family [clan] in Angoon. It  had only been in use four years.

The detachable dorsal fin is ornamented with women's hair. It was sold to Swanton by the son of the man who had it in possession, and Swanton was told that this man had two more hats he might part with. Swanton collected 16 objects in Sitka including masks, totem pole models, baskets, a paddle, a club and bone implements; the items were intended for the Smithsonian's exhibition at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

UPDATE: This object has been repatriated, for more information please see the report by the Department of Anthropology's Repatriation Office. If you require more information also please visit the Department of Anthropology's Repatriation Office website.

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