‘It feels like a family member has come home’: Stolen Tlingit regalia returned to Juneau resident

Stolen Tlingit regalia has been returned to Juneau resident
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 6:34 PM AKST
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s a heartwarming ending to what was a heartbreaking scenario — the traditional Tlingit regalia that had been missing since a burglary over the holidays has been returned to its rightful owner.

Taija Revels was desperate for answers after she returned to her Juneau home after vacation only to find that it had been broken into and burglarized. Traditional Tlingit regalia — made by her late grandmother and worn through generations of dancing and Celebrations — were among the items stolen. The vibrant blue and red tunic has been in Revels’ family for over five decades.

When she received a call from a family member last weekend, Revels was shocked to hear that someone had come forward.

“We were just so happy and so relieved,” Revels said.

According to Revels, a person who wished to remain anonymous purchased the regalia from a group of individuals who were selling items in downtown Juneau. After bringing it home, a friend of the anonymous person said he recognized the garments from media coverage.

“He saw my story on the news and was like ‘Hey so-and-so, don’t you know that’s stolen regalia’,” Revels recalled the pair telling her.

The anonymous person claimed they were unaware that the regalia had been stolen, and reached out to one of Revels’ family members using social media. That family member then called Revels with the news that the regalia had been recovered, and that the anonymous person was waiting for her to come pick it up.

Revels said the garments were in a tightly tied white garbage bag. When the bag was opened, they asked if it was her missing regalia.

“I immediately started crying,” Revels stated. “It’s all there.”

The anonymous individual refused to take any reward money for the return of Revels’ items. They parted ways, no questions asked.

“And that was that, and I drove home and opened it up, inspected it button by button, bead by bead, piece by piece, and it’s all there,” Revels said relieved. “It feels like a family member has come home.”