Release & Backgrounder
For Immediate Release:
Sacred Rattle Returning to W’SANEC Family After Absence of More than 76 Years
A sacred Ceremonial rattle is returning to a W’SANEC family after an absence of more than 76 years. The rattle which is carved out of horn, adorned with mountain goat wool and features a man with up-raised hands – belongs to the Claxton family of the Tsawout First Nation. It was taken from a Saanichton Museum 43 years ago by an art dealer and almost disappeared into the shady antiquities market forever.
The sacred rattle was used for naming ceremonies, weddings or funerals of members of the society. Along with the rattle, there was a song that belonged to the family. It was a great honour to be able to use the rattle when called upon. After an international appeal by the family, they were successful in rescuing the rattle from a New York auction block in 1997. Dr. Nick Claxton’s grandfather, Johnnie Claxton, first placed the rattle in the local museum back in 1947.
Nick, a specialist in Indigenous education and Saanich cultural revival who teaches at Uvic, says his family is thrilled to have their sacred rattle returned to them at last. It would have meant so much also to the dearly departed family, two uncles, Earl and Clyde, two aunts, Molly and Janet and Gramma Elsie. The rattle was very important to them also.
Claxton says the story of the rattle’s long journey home should also serve as a warning about the trade in sacred ceremonial objects and the importance of repatriating cultural materials to the First Nations. Nick would also raise his hands to all that took part in getting the rattle returned. Clarine Ostrove of Mandell Pinder, Barristers & Solicitors, who assisted Earl Sr and Jr. With much correspondence, Alan Hoover; Manager Anthropology RBCM, Saanich Native Heritage Society in much correspondence in locating the rattle and steps required to repatriate.
Contact: Dr. Nick Claxton (250) 361-6627
Read the full backround and story of the rattle by clicking the button below.