A ceremonial headdress has been returned to the Siksika Nation.

On June 5, a ceremony was held at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM) in Exeter, England, to repatriate the piece after it had been kept there for over 100 years.

Among those in attendance were representatives from the Siksika Nation: Councillor Strater Crowfoot, Councillor Marsha Wolf Collar, Kent Ayoungman, Herman Yellow Old Woman and Joset Melting Tallow.

The Buffalo Woman’s Headdress is described in a media release from RAMM as having been “crafted with buffalo horns, sacred bird feathers, porcupine quills, and adorned with red cloth and brass bells.”

The headdress was taken to the museum in 1920, having previously been in the possession of Lieutenant Governor Edgar Dewdney.

Dewdney was the commissioner of Indian Affairs in the late 1800s. While it’s unknown exactly how he came to acquire the headdress, the RAMM posits that it likely happened as a result of the devastating practices and policies put in place in an effort to colonize Canada’s First Nations, many of which Dewdney contributed to directly.

A collaborative effort from the Siksika, Kainai, and Blackfoot Nations led to the identification of the headdress as one that was “once traditionally worn by a holy woman of the Blackfoot Holy Buffalo Woman Society known as the Motokiks,” according to the museum.

Siksika headdress(Photo Credit: Jim Wileman)

A request for its repatriation was sent to the RAMM in September of 2022.

The museum had previously repatriated Chief Crowfoot’s regalia to the Siksika Nation that same year.

Joset Melting Tallow of the Siksika Nation was quoted in the RAMM’s media release.

“The ceremonial Buffalo Woman’s Headdress holds immense sacred significance to the Blackfoot people. Its return to Siksika Nation symbolizes not only the preservation of our cultural heritage, but also the recognition of our history and traditions, and is a profound testament to our ancestors’ spiritual and cultural practices. We are grateful to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum for their commitment to honouring and respecting the sacredness of this headdress by facilitating its repatriation.”