UK Returns Valuable Artifact to Canada After Nearly 100 Years
A popular museum artefact, deemed 'stolen' from Canada's First Nation people, is set to 'return home' from a British museum, reports Sky News.
The wooden memorial totem pole, House Of Ni'isjoohl, was hand-carved from red cedar in the 1800s by Canadian locals. The pole features depictions of animals, humans, and family crests.
The memorial stood on the bank of the Nass River in the village of Ankidaa for about 70 years. Then, in the 1920s, it was taken from the village, most likely stolen while villagers were away on a hunting season.
The pole 'arrived' in Scotland in 1929. Standing at 37 feet tall, the wooden artefact was a popular exhibit at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh for most of the last century.
It was sold to the museum by Canadian anthropologist Marius Barbeau in 1929.
Representatives from the Nisga'a Nation personally requested the museum to return the relic.
Sim'oogit Ni'isjoohl, also known as Chief Earl Stevens, said that in Nisga'a culture, the pole is still believed to be imbued with the spirit of their ancestors.
'After nearly 100 years, we can finally bring our dear relative home to rest on Nisga'a land. The return of the Ni'isjoohl memorial pole means a great deal to us, connecting our family, nation, and future generations to our living history,' added Chief Earl Stevens.
The museum acknowledges that the person who sold the pole did so without 'cultural, spiritual, or political authority.' Museum officials agreed late last year that it should be returned to the indigenous Nisga'a Nation in present-day British Columbia.
The artefact is now on the verge of a nearly 7,000-kilometre journey home.
Before its return, a religious ceremony—a private spiritual ritual—was conducted on Monday to 'prepare the relic for its journey home.'
Museum representatives said that a steel cradle would protect the pole during the 'intricate task' of safely moving it from the museum, and then across the Atlantic.
Scaffolding will be constructed to shelter the pole in the steel cradle, before it is slowly removed from the museum through a large window.
The artefact is expected to return home to Canada by the end of September.
Earlier, The Gaze reported that museums and galleries across Europe hold extensive collections of treasures and objects from around the world. In essence, European museums are replete with looted artefacts from their colonial history. Presently, countries are beginning to repatriate what rightfully belongs to them.