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Manitowoc to Alaska: A historic piece of culture returns home

Posted at 7:12 PM, May 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 20:12:36-04

MANITOWOC (NBC 26) — A very important item is returning home to Alaska after making a trip to Wisconsin. The Rahr West Art Museum invited a special visitor came to town to pick it up.

  • A sacred blanket that was found at the Rahr West Art Museum is being returned to its original owners.
  • The blanket is going back to Alaska where researchers will attempt to find the village where it was made.
  • Museum Director Greg Vadney says it was a no-brainer to give it back and he's happy it is going home.

"This is going to be a big deal,” Rahr West Director Greg Vadney said of a Chilkat blanket, a sacred piece of Alaskan tribal culture.
"It's an incredible piece of cultural history in America,” said Vadney.

After discovering what the piece was 6 years ago, Vadney is finally able to return it to Alaska.

"To be able to bring it back to the people that made it and thought it was lost,” Vadney says. “That is the most exciting thing for me."

On Friday, Sealaska Heritage Chief Operating Officer Lee Kadinger traveled to Manitowoc to accept the blanket.

"It tells a story,” Kadinger said. “So when it comes back home, it will be like a family reunion."

Kadinger says that the blanket will go through testing and the goal is to return it to the exact tribal village in which it was made more than 100 years ago.

"Just bringing it back home brings so much fulfillment to our shareholders and tribal members,” said Kadinger.

Vadney says the experience has been incredible and the blanket that connects Manitowoc to a small village in Alaska will be a story that will carry on.

“They're not just points of fascination,” explained Vadney. “They're points to bond us between our different backgrounds."

Kadinger mentioned that these sacred blankets are being found all over the country and if you find something that looks like the picture at the top of the article, reach out to Sealaska as they are always looking to bring their pieces home.