A 19th century carved yellow cedar clan helmet from the Northwest Coast Collection of the University of Maine Hudson Museum has been fed into 21st century 3D printing technology in an effort to replicate the artifact for future repatriation and educational purposes.

The museum, in conjunction with UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and Intermedia Program, received a seed of $14,600 grant of the UMaine Arts Initiative for the project “Technology and Tradition: Shaping Indigenous Collections for the Future”. The funding supports the creation of a 3D-printed prototype replica and the work of UMaine student intermedia artists to perform final finishing and surface treatment and painting to match the original artifact.

The object, a Frog Clan helmet painted in green and red pigments and encrusted with abalone shell discs that were originally attached to a textile, is requested for repatriation by the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of ‘Alaska. Harold Jacobs, cultural resource specialist for the Central Council, granted permission to carry out the prototype project, which has the potential to facilitate the return of the artifact to the Indigenous community and allow the Hudson Museum to culturally preserve the replica. important for educational purposes.

The project also allows the Hudson Museum to develop proof of concept for collection replication projects, helping to create protocols for replication projects with Indigenous communities and providing other collecting institutions with information. techniques on 3D scanning, printing and techniques for creating surfaces that resemble the original artifact or object, says director Gretchen Faulkner. The project builds on UMaine’s world-class expertise in 3D printing at the Composites Center and engages the skills of UMaine Intermedia program students in a museum setting.

Composites Center research engineers Jonathan Roy and Alexander Cole led the scanning, scanning and 3D printing of the prototype, created from a durable thermoplastic that can be sanded to a smooth finish. Intermediate graduate students Luke McKinney, Reed Hayden, and Anna Martin collaborate on model finishing, painting, and surface treatment to replicate the look of the original sculpture.

The creation of the Frog Clan helmet replica, including photos and a time-lapse video of its scanning and printing, will be the focus of an exhibit at the Hudson Museum in late July.

The Tlingit Frog Clan Helmet is subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and repatriation of the object has been requested by the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. The Museum of the Hudson has repatriated unassociated burial remains and this piece is part of an ongoing request from the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

The Clan Frog helmet was part of a 1982 bequest to UMaine from the estate of William P. Palmer III, which included an extraordinary gift of pre-Columbian artifacts ranging from the Olmec to the Aztec, and an assemblage of Northwest Coast masks, potlatch bowls, Chilkat textiles. and items made for sale outside the community. Hudson’s Northwest Coast collections include alienated museum holdings and items acquired from Native American art dealers. Collection documentation indicates that Palmer acquired the Frog helmet from a California collector.

Tlingit clan hats and helmets were crest items, called at.oow, displaying either clan symbols or crest animals. Among the Tlingit, these helmets belong to the community and are kept by the chief of the clan, and the tribe has actively worked with museums across the United States for their return.

Cultural heritage objects returned by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act have been reinstated into federally recognized Native American tribes and Native villages and organizations in Alaska and Hawaii and ceremonial and religious practices .

Hats are worn and danced by clan chiefs during important ceremonies, death of chieftains and potlatches. At the end of the 19and and early 20and century with efforts to eradicate indigenous languages, traditions, and ceremonial and religious practices, many were collected by museums or sold to collectors, according to Faulkner. Today, the return of these objects has brought healing to Tlingit communities and reconnected them to the cultural traditions of their ancestors.

“Technology and Tradition: Shaping Indigenous Collections for the Future” was one of the five projects funded receive seed grants as part of the new arts initiative launched in 2021 by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at UMaine to increase resources and support for the arts, strengthen their importance and improve their visibility on campus and beyond .

Contact person: Margaret Nagle, [email protected]