ALERT BAY—An important cultural artifact made its way home just in time for display in the newly remodelled Potlatch Collection section of the U’mista Cultural Centre.
The Anisalaga Chilkat blanket, originally woven in the late 19th century, was returned from its previous display in Paris and was unveiled Mar. 1 in a ceremony dedicating the reopening of the Potlatch Collection, which was damaged in a fire in August of 2012.
The ceremony was presided over by ‘Namgis Chief Bill Cranmer and U’mista director Sarah Holland.
The said the blanket’s return is important not just because it represents a high art form for the Cultural Centre, but because it returns knowledge of the weaving style and techniques to Kwakwaka’wakw artisans. Anisalaga was a Tlingit woman who brought this art form to the Kwakwaka’wakw territories. Her blankets are the foundation for the chilkat blankets made to this day.
Chilkat blankets require considerable skill and knowledge, as well as perseverance, to create. A blanket such as this would take more than a year to complete, including the time needed to gather the wool from the mountain goats and pigments from various plants and minerals.
The return of the blanket was credited to the efforts of many people, both in the community and at the Cultural Centre.
David Faren contributed to this report.