Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: August 10th, 2021

Event to be live streamed, media invited to attend

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will hold a homecoming ceremony to welcome back an extraordinary collection of at.óow (sacred objects), in addition to a Tlingit mask and a hat with ties to Alaska Native land claims.

The at.óow includes rattles, an octopus bag, two painted spruce-root hats, a shaman’s apron, a ceremonial collar, a dagger, two button blankets, two maskettes, a tunic, a Chilkat robe, a helmet and an amulet. The collection was donated to SHI by Wells Fargo, which cared for the items in its Wells Fargo Museum in Anchorage. The pieces were collected by National Bank of Alaska from 1968-1986, under the direction of Elmer Rasmuson. Wells Fargo maintained the collection in its museum as part of its acquisition of National Bank of Alaska in 2000.

“This is an astonishing act of kindness on behalf of the people at Wells Fargo, and we are thrilled to welcome our ancestors home,” said SHI President Rosita Worl. “Our people will cherish and learn from this at.óow for many years to come.”

The mask and hat are known as at.nané, which refers to an iconic event or the visualization of an iconic event. When at.nané are presented at a ceremony, and the history of the event is given in the presence of the opposite side (moiety), it is transformed into at.óow.

The mask and hat were donated to SHI by the family of I.S. “Lefty” Weissbrodt, an attorney who prosecuted Tlingit and Haida land claims beginning in the mid-1900s. While Weissbrodt’s earliest work in Native American claims was with the Tlingit and Haida and Sealaska, he later served as claims attorney for more than 30 tribes, and his work in connection with Native Americans composed the majority of his firm’s work.

The hat, made by the master Tlingit artist Nathan Jackson, was given to Weissbrodt by Native people in appreciation of his work on their behalf. The hat records the Southeast Alaska land claims efforts and ultimate judicial and legislative settlements.

“Our family has always felt extremely proud of the work that our dad did on behalf of the Tlingit-Haida people,” wrote his family. “He devoted the majority of his professional efforts to improving the lives of so many people and taking small step toward righting so many enormous wrongs.”

“We are awed and grateful that through a series of connections, conversations and events that can only be described as kismet, the hat and mask have found their way home.”

The hat and the mask, which was made by the noted Tlingit artist Michael Beasley, will be available at SHI for study by students. Donors included David Weissbrodt (son), Amy Monahan (daughter), Pat Schaffer (daughter-in-law), Gregory Monahan (son-in-law), John Dagger (son-in-law), all of I.S. Weissbrodt’s grandchildren (7) and great grandchildren (6), and in spirit, I.S. Weissbrodt, Selma Mushkin (wife) and Ellen Weissbrodt (daughter).

The ceremony is scheduled at 2 pm, Thursday, Aug. 12, in the clan house at Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau. The event will be live streamed on SHI’s YouTube page.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

Captions: Top, beaded bib/collar donated to SHI by Wells Fargo. Bottom, hat made by master Tlingit artist Nathan Jackson that records the Southeast Alaska land claims efforts and ultimate judicial and legislative settlements. Photos by Lyndsey Brollini, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Note: News outlets are welcome and encouraged to use these photos for coverage of this story. For higher-resolution images, contact

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