King Island Shaman's Mask at the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum. Photo: Laura Samuelson / AP file. The King Island Shaman's Mask, which was returned to Alaska by Marilyn Lewis of Port Townsend, Wash. A Lewis relative took the ancient mask from Alaska more than a century ago and she wanted to get it back to its rightful owners.
via msnbc.com [thanks Nicole!]:
Ancient mask returned to Alaska ghost village
Four decades after it was abandoned, King Island gets sacred surprise
By Rachel D'Oro, Associated Press
Fri., Jan. 18, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Four decades after it was abandoned, King Island holds an almost mystical pull for former inhabitants and their descendants, its crumbling homes still perched on stilts, clinging to the steep, rocky terrain.
Until recently, little else remained of the island, an Inupiat Eskimo village, except for traditions, memories and artifacts scattered at museums around the nation. Then came word from a stranger nearly 2,000 miles away who said she possessed an ancient mask a relative brought back from Alaska more than a century ago.
On the back of the relic was a faint inscription: "Taken from a medicine man's grave on King Island."
The woman from northwest Washington e-mailed Charlene Saclamana, tribal coordinator with the King Island Native Community based in Nome, a city 80 miles southeast of the tiny Bering Sea island where many of its residents relocated.
Marilyn Lewis said she wanted to return the wooden mask to its rightful owners. Two weeks later, she traveled to Alaska to deliver the artifact, which is now on display at the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum in Nome, named after the museum's late founder, a gold rush pioneer.
"It gives me and my family something tangible from our past. We've lost so much of the culture," said Saclamana, whose parents lived on King Island. "We were eager to have the mask back in our possession. We never had anything that well preserved from the island."
The island, home to about 200 people a century ago, was abandoned for various reasons. [read on...]
Photo: Capt. Budd Christman / NOAA Corps via AP. The deserted stilt village of King Island, Alaska, about 625 miles northwest of Anchorage, is shown in 1978. Four decades after it was abandoned, King Island holds an almost mystical pull for former residents and their offspring, its crumbling homes still perched eerily on stilts across the steep, rocky face of an unforgiving terrain.