Sacred headdress to be handed over to Siksika Nation delegation at Exeter’s museum

June 4, 2024

A delegation from the Siksika Nation in Canada will take possession of the ceremonial bird bundle, in the form of a headdress, in a handover event in Exeter on 5 June 2024.

Exeter, UK – A ceremonial Buffalo Woman’s Headdress, crafted with buffalo horns, sacred bird feathers, porcupine quills, and adorned with red cloth and brass bells, is finally about to be back in the safekeeping of the people from which it originated. Siksika Nation representatives, Councillor Strater Crowfoot, Councillor Marsha Wolf Collar, Kent Ayoungman, Herman Yellow Old Woman and Joset Melting Tallow have travelled to Exeter, England to repatriate a Buffalo Woman’s Headdress back to the Blackfoot tribe of Siksika Nation in a ceremony on June 5, 2024 at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM).

The ceremonial headdress has been held at RAMM in Exeter, England since 1920, when it was handed over to the Museum by Edgar Dewdney, a Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories. Although the exact means of acquisition is undocumented, it was likely acquired through the enforcement of colonial assimilation policy in connection to Treaty 7 and the Indian Act (the 1889 amendment to section 114).

Through meticulous and dedicated research, delegates from Siksika Nation, in collaboration with Kainai and Blackfeet Nations identified the headdress as a sacred ceremonial item, once traditionally worn by a holy woman of the Blackfoot Holy Buffalo Woman Society known as the Motokiks. The cultivation of a meaningful partnership with Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery has previously allowed for the repatriation of Chief Crowfoot’s regalia in 2022, and now the Buffalo Woman’s Headdress.

In September 2022, RAMM received a formal letter from the Blackfoot (Siksika) requesting an act of repatriation.

Joset Melting Tallow, of the Siksika Nation said: ‘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.’

Julien Parsons, RAMM’s Collections & Content Manager said: ‘The return of the ceremonial bird bundle represents a significant moment in the museum’s history and our relationship with the Siksika. Over a century after the headdress came to RAMM, we are pleased that it will be used once more for its original purpose.’

The sacred bundle is being returned to the Motokiks so that it is returned to use by the holy women who fought to protect the continuity of their culture.


Notes for editors

For more information please contact:

Jennifer Kohlhammer
Sinakssin Communications

Nicki McCaskie
RAMM Marketing & Communications Officer
01392 265317

Images available here. More images will be published here following the ceremony on 5 June:

About Siksika Nation

Since time immemorial, the Children of the Plains, the Siksikai’tsitapi – Blackfoot People, have lived in and protected a territory that stretches from the North Saskatchewan River in present day Alberta and Saskatchewan to the Yellowstone River in the state of Montana, from the Continental Divide in the west to Regina in the province now known as Saskatchewan.

Today, Siksika Nation population is approximately 8,000+ members and is part of the Siksikaitsitapi – Blackfoot Confederacy. The Siksikaitsitapi refers to four Indigenous Nations which make up the Blackfoot people: the Siksika (Blackfoot), the Kainai (Many Chiefs), the Apatohsipiikani (Northern Peigan) and Amsskapipiikani (Southern Peigan). Siksikai’powahsini (Blackfoot Language) is the language of the Siksikaitsitapi.

About the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM)

RAMM is Exeter’s world-class museum, a place of discovery which encourages everyone to be curious. Its stunning displays reveal Devon and Exeter’s rich history and global connections. Visitors are delighted by exotic animals, birds and insects and a changing programme of exhibitions and events inspired by the museum’s collections. These displays of extraordinary objects also inspire contemporary artists to create new work

Welcoming 250,000 visitors in a normal year, RAMM has a proven track record of making its collections accessible to visitors, both physically and online. In 2012 RAMM won the much-coveted Art Fund ‘Museum of the Year’ award in recognition of the innovative and thoughtful way the collection was redisplayed. RAMM’s World Cultures collection and part of its Natural Sciences collection are Designated, a mark of distinction which recognises their national and international significance.

RAMM is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. It aims to use its local and global collections to connect people to the world and inspire them to shape a better future.

Siksika Nation
P.O. Box 1100 Siksika, AB T0J 3W0
(403) 734-5109 Ι Toll Free 1-800-551-5724

Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery
Queen St, Exeter, EX4 3RX
(44) 01392 265858