A headdress originally from Siksika Nation is back in the safekeeping of the people from which it originated.

A ceremonial Buffalo Woman's Headdress is crafted with buffalo horns, sacred bird feathers, and porcupine quills and adorned with red cloth and brass bells.

Siksika representatives Councillor Strater Crowfoot, Councillor Marsha Wolf Collar, Kent Ayoungman, Herman Yellow Old Woman, and Joset Melting Tallow traveled to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter, Southwest England, to bring back the headdress.

Joset Melting Tallow, of the Siksika Nation, explained that the ceremonial headdress holds immense sacred significance for the Blackfoot people.

"Its return to the Siksika Nation symbolizes not only the preservation of our cultural heritage but also the recognition of our history and traditions, and it is a profound testament to our ancestors' spiritual and cultural practices." 

headressSiksika Nation's Ceremonial Buffalo Woman's Headdress returns home. (Photo Credits - Jim Wileman).

Tallow expressed his gratitude to RAMM for their commitment to honouring and respecting the sacredness of this headdress by facilitating its repatriation. 

The ceremonial headdress has been held at RAMM since 1920 when it was handed over to the Museum by Edgar Dewdney, a Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories. 

According to the RAMM website, the exact means of acquisition is undocumented; it was likely acquired through the enforcement of colonial assimilation policy in connection to Treaty 7 and the Indian Act (the 1889 amendment to section 114).

Julien Parsons, RAMM's Collections & Content Manager, said this was a touching experience for her. 

"The elders performed a short ceremony and then painstakingly bundled and wrapped the headdress in coloured cloth."

Parson explains that it will travel like this back to the nation, where it will be returned to its sacred use by the Siksika people.

Siksika Nation Siksika Nation's Ceremonial Buffalo Woman's Headdress returns home. (Photo Credits - Jim Wileman).

According to RAMM, the research identified the headdress as a sacred ceremonial item once traditionally worn by a holy woman of the Blackfoot Holy Buffalo Woman Society known as the Motokiks.

The process of receiving the headdress began in September 2022 when RAMM received a formal letter from members of Siksika requesting an act of repatriation.

The delegation ceremony was held on June 5. 

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