Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_Washington man donates old Frog button blanket to Sealaska Heritage

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Piece thought to date to the late 1800s

Oct. 8, 2020

A Washington State man has donated an old Frog button blanket to Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) that is thought to date to the late nineteenth century.

The blanket was owned by the late Ethel Kiley, who was born in Klukwan and may have been a Tlingit Raven of the Gaanaxteidí clan, which uses a Frog crest.

Kiley kept the blanket in a sealed plastic bag, where it remained for many years in her closet. Twenty years ago, she gave the blanket to her grandson, Rick Verlinda, who kept it in the bag until last month, when he decided to donate it to SHI.

He chose SHI because the institute can care for it in a climate-controlled, state-of-the-art facility and make it available to the public.

“What I like about Sealaska Heritage is that people will have a chance to see the blanket,” Verlinda said. “Most importantly, the blanket will be back closer to where it originally came from. I hope that anyone who has an interest in the blanket will be able to access it.”

SHI President Rosita Worl said she was grateful to Kiley for caring for the piece and to her grandson for recognizing the importance of returning the blanket to its homelands.

“We are fortunate to receive this blanket, which is well over a hundred years old. Our art mentors often tell students to study the old pieces made by master artists, and this simply elegant Frog design will surely inspire them,” Worl said.

As a child, Kiley was removed from her village and sent to an Indian boarding school in Seattle, where she was punished for speaking her Native language, Verlinda said. When she returned to Alaska, she moved to Hydaburg. She had three brothers: Clarence, Harry and Patrick.  Verlinda’s uncle, Clarence Kiley, was an artist in Hydaburg, where he died.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

Caption: Frog button blanket donated to SHI by Rick Verlinda. Photo by Lyndsey Brollini, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute. For a high-resolution image, contact News outlets are welcome to use the image in reports on this story.