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Tlingit leaders hope to block auction of sacred hat in New York






One of many Alaska Native and Pacific Northwest items up for auction on Wednesday. Photo from Sotheby's

Tlingit leaders in Alaska are asking Sotheby’s to stop the auction of a sacred hat.

The hat is part of a large collection of Native items from the Pacific Northwest. Sotheby's estimates that it could be sold for $300,000 to $500,000.

Tribal leaders hope it won't come to that. But they are also considering buying the item themselves in order to bring it back home.

"Sometimes this is hard for people to understand," Sealaska Heritage Institute Director Rosita Worl told The Juneau Empire. "They maybe understand it is sacred, it is sacred to us. But it embodies the spirit of our ancestors and ties us to our ancestors ... it ties present generations to ancestors and also to future generations.

Harold Jacobs, the cultural resources director for the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, said the hat was previously put up for auction in 1993 for $20,000. The sale is due to take place on Wednesday in New York City.

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When auction house looks to Tlingit art, the sacred goes on sale (The Juneau Empire 5/16)