Technology and Tradition: Shaping Indigenous Collections for the Future
Technology and Tradition:
In June 2018, representatives from the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) came to the Hudson Museum for a consultation visit to review the Museum’s holdings as part of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Harold Jacobs, Sarah Dybdahl, Stephanie Masterman, Herman Davis Sr., Herman Davis Jr., and Neeka Cook reviewed holdings in collection storage and on exhibit. Subsequently, CCTHITA made formal requests for the repatriation of unassociated funerary objects and objects of cultural patrimony that are culturally affiliated with their communities. In preparation for the repatriation of one of these items, a Tlingit Frog Clan helmet (HM5040), the Hudson Museum sought to draw on the 3D printing expertise of the University of Maine Advanced Structures & Composites Center and Intermedia Program students to create a replica. The end product allows the Museum to continue educating learners of all ages about the cultural traditions of the Northwest Coast, while allowing the original object to be reintegrated into traditions, ceremonies, and cultural practices of the community from which it came.
How did the Frog Clan Helmet come to the Hudson Museum?
The Clan Helmet was part of a 1982 bequest to the University of Maine from the estate of William P. Palmer III, which included an extraordinary gift of Pre-Columbian objects that ranged from Olmec to Aztec and an assemblage of Northwest Coast masks, potlatch bowls, Chilkat textiles and tourist items. The Northwest Coast Collections include deaccessioned museum holdings and objects acquired from Native American Art dealers, and shops in Alaska like the Bear Totem Store and the Gold Nugget Shop. Collection documentation indicates that Palmer acquired the Frog Helmet from Proctor Stafford, a California collector. In 1985, the piece was exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Art in Symbols of Prestige: Native American Arts from the Northwest Coast from Los Angeles Collections.