APRIL SNOW SHOWERS – Pam Young shovels snow from in front of Harry Race Pharmacy this morning. The city measured 1.5 inches of snow this morning at 10 a.m. More snow and low overnight temperatures of 28 degrees are forecast for both tonight and Saturday night. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sealaska Sues Retailer Over ‘Ravenstail’ Coat

By RACHEL D’ORO
 
The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE (AP) — An Alaska Native cultural organization is suing luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, saying the Dallas-based company violated copyright and American Indian arts protection laws in selling a knit coat with a geometric design borrowed from indigenous culture.

In the federal lawsuit filed Monday, Sealaska Heritage Institute maintains the retailer falsely affiliated the $2,555 “Ravenstail” coat with northwest coast native artists through the design and use of the term, Ravenstail. 

The plaintiffs say the Ravenstail term and style has been associated for hundreds of years with Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribes. According to the lawsuit, the coat also mimics a Ravenstail coat created by a Tlingit weaver nearly a quarter century ago.

Sealaska attorney Jacob Adams said the case is part of a larger movement to recognize the rights of indigenous people to their cultural items.

“For a very long time, they’ve been seen as kind of resources that anyone can use,” Adams said. “And that goes beyond inspiration to outright violation.”

TOP: Ravenstail robe created in 1996 by the late master weaver Clarissa Rizal, who was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts, the country’s highest honor in traditional arts. BOTTOM: A Neiman Marcus coat which draws heavily on Rizal’s original Ravenstail design. (Photos courtesy of Sealaska)

Neiman Marcus representatives did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. It is unclear if the coat is still for sale. It did not appear in a search on the retailer’s website Monday.

Nieman Marcus has 43 stores throughout the U.S., none in Alaska. 

Sealaska says it discovered the retailer was selling the coat in 2019. Adams said the garment was still being sold last month.

According to the lawsuit, Neiman Marcus violated the Indian Arts and Crafts Act that requires that products marketed as “Indian” are actually made by indigenous people. The Juneau-based nonprofit works to preserve and enhance the culture of southeast Alaska’s Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribes.

Sealaska also says the Neiman Marcus robe violates the copyright of Clarissa Rizal, a late master weaver who created the Ravenstail robe in 1996. When she died in 2016, her family obtained the rights to the robe, Adams said.

Last year, Rizal’s heirs registered the robe with the U.S. copyright office, the lawsuit says. The copyright was then exclusively licensed to Sealaska, the lawsuit says.

Plaintiffs seek an injunction prohibiting Neiman Marcus or parent companies from selling the coat, as well as unspecified compensatory, punitive and other damages.

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

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As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

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We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

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To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

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– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 4-9-21)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 241

Total statewide – 62,161

Total (cumulative) deaths – 309

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,388

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Active cases in Sitka – 8

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 348 (309 resident; 39 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 340

Deceased (cumulative) – 1

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

• • •

 

Sitka Vax Stats 

The City of Sitka posted the following update on vaccinations in Sitka as of Friday.

Partially vaccinated – 4,564 (65.85%)

Fully vaccinated – 4,070 (58.72%)

Total population (16+) –6,931

Sitka has vaccinated 1,215 (89.5%) of its senior population (1,358 total), age 65 and older. 

Vaccination data are for the City and Borough of Sitka. The data are updated weekly on Sitka’s COVID-19 Dashboard at: bit.ly/SitkaDashboard. 

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20 YEARS AGO
April 2001

Photo caption: Karl Johnson, Gege Dimond, Dolly Garza, Sheryl Parsons, Joy Light and Teri Rofkar cast off in a traditional Tlingit canoe at Sealing Cove Sunday. They were practicing paddling techniques for the traditional carved canoe race to be held this weekend as part of the communitywide celebration “One Nation Working Together.”

50 YEARS AGO
April 1971

Meeting notices: The Sitka Roadters car club will meet Sunday at Don’s Crescent Service. ... Southeast Alaska Trollers Assoc. will hold their monthly meeting Sunday  at Blatchley Junior High. ... The Sitka Historical Society will meet Sunday at the Centennial Building. After a short meeting further work will be done on the society’s museum that’s being installed in the west wing of the building.

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