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Tlingit & Haida eNews - 8.23.18
Spruce Root Basket Donated from Private Collection
Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) was recently donated two baskets – a Tlingit spruce root basket ( shéiyi xaat kákgu ) and a small basket with a whale motif made by a member of the Makah tribe of Washington. The baskets were a part of a private collection belonging to Maxine Gresset, the late mother of Marie Kauffman of Camp Verde, Arizona.

Marie shared that her desire to return the basket was simply based on a feeling that it was the right thing to do.

“My mother would be pleased to know the spruce root basket has returned to its place of origin,” said Marie.

Steve Henrikson, Curator of Collections for the Alaska State Museum, identified one of the baskets as being Tlingit spruce root in the “ginger jar” form based on Chinese pottery containers.

Basket making is one of the oldest Tlingit art forms and our Southeast Alaska indigenous people produced some of the finest examples of the two-strand twining weaving method. Spruce root baskets were water-tight vessels that typically exhibited bold geometric designs.

“Although the lidded basket is a bit faded, it’s still in very good shape,” said Cultural Resource Specialist Harold Jacobs. “Tlingit weavers used their incredible skills to imitate many complex shapes in spruce roots…teapots, bottles, even dolls with arms and legs. In this case, the shape of the basket imitates the lidded pots from China called ginger jars."

“The spirit of our ancestors and culture flow through this basket,” said President Richard (Chalyee Éesh) Peterson. “It is always a good feeling when an item returns home.”

The spruce root basket will be properly assessed and documented and eventually made available for study by those interested in weaving or Tlingit art forms.

Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa (Thank You) to Ms. Kauffman for returning the basket to its homeland!
Tribal Court Awarded One-Time Funding from Bureau of Indian Affairs
Tlingit & Haida's Tribal Court was recently awarded $591,000 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs – Office of Tribal Justice Support (TJS).

The one-time funding will be used to support the operation of Tlingit & Haida’s Tribal Court. In addition to paying for administrative expenses, the funding will support the Tribe’s Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) related court proceedings.

TJS provides guidance, technical support, and advisory services to tribal courts and Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) courts. Funding is directed to specific needs of tribal court personnel, promoting cooperation and coordination among tribal justice systems and Federal and State judiciary systems, and providing oversight for the continuing operations for the Courts of Indian Offenses.

The Tribal Court was established by Articles VII and XI of the Tribe’s Constitution as a separate branch of government to exercise Tlingit & Haida’s inherent sovereignty and provide a culturally-appropriate forum for tribal citizens to address their judicial needs. The Tribal Court opened its doors in March 2007 to handle custody and child support cases. Today, the court continues its work with child welfare, but has also expanded its subject matter jurisdiction to include other civil and criminal cases including: adoptions, marriage/divorce, domestic violence, guardianships and paternity establishment.

The Tribal Court is currently staffed by five employees (Presiding Judge, Appellate Court Administrator, two Clerk of the Courts, and an Administrative Clerk). Over the course of the year, the Tribal Court has been working to develop an implementation plan for circle sentencing, civil diversion and other restorative justice models to reduce recidivism and incarceration rates for tribal citizens; implement a Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court, and provide technical assistance to Southeast Alaska tribes and communities to create individual, inter-tribal or regional court systems.
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