Associated Cultures: Blood, Gros Ventre
In August, 1996, a member of the White Clay Society of the Gros Ventre Tribe in Montana and custodian of the Gros Ventre Flat pipe, requested the repatriation of a scalp that was once attached to the wrappings of the Flat pipe. The scalp had been acquired by the custodian of the Pipe and donated to the National Museum of Natural History in 1936. The White Clay Society is the designated repatriation representative for the Gros Ventre, who are members of the federally-recognized Fort Belknap Indian Community.
According to the information documented in the accession file and described extensively in a published ethnography, the scalp was acquired by a Gros Ventre warrior in an attack on a party of Blood Indians in the late 1860s or 1870s. Because the tribe of origin of the scalp was known, a representative of the Blood Tribe was contacted by a member of the White Clay Society and staff of the Repatriation Office, to consult with them to determine if they would assert an interest in the scalp. The Repatriation Office was informed in writing that Blood tribal representatives, including religious leaders, consider the scalp to belong with the Gros Ventre Flat pipe bundle and the Blood Tribe does not wish to acquire the scalp.
The scalp was once part of the Flat pipe, a ceremonial object in the Gros Ventre religious tradition, ands it is needed for the present-day ceremonial use of the Pipe by the Gros Ventre people. It is found to be a sacred object because it was once an integral part of a Gros Ventre ceremonial object, the Flat Pipe, and it is needed by the present-day custodian of the Pipe.
Based on these findings, the scalp was repatriated to representatives of the Gros Ventre on July 25, 2002.
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