Sun, 10 Sep 2023
Last month Toph and I went on vacation to Juneau, Alaska. I walked up to look at the glacier, but mostly we just enjoyed the view and the cool weather. But there were some surprises.
One day we took a cab downtown, and our driver, Edwell John, asked where we were visiting from, as cab drivers do. We said we were from Philadelphia, and he told us he had visited Philadelphia himself.
“I was repatriating Native artifacts,” he said.
Specifically, he had gone to the University of Pennsyvania Museum, to take back the Killer Whale Dagger named Keet Gwalaa. This is a two foot long dagger that was forged by Tlingit people in the 18th century from meteorite steel.
This picture comes from the Penn Museum. (I think this isn't the actual dagger, but a reproduction they had made after M. John took back the original.)
This was very exciting! I asked “where is the dagger now?” expecting that it had been moved to a museum in Angoon or something.
“Oh, I have it,” he said.
I was amazed. “What, like on you?”
“No, at my house. I'm the clan leader of the Killer Whale clan.”
Then he took out his phone and showed us a photo of himself in his clan leader garb, carrying the dagger.
Here's an article about M. John visiting the Smithsonian to have them 3-D scan the Killer Whale hat. Then the Smithsonian had a replica hat made from the scan.