An aging totem pole that told the story of a murdered woman was lowered during a ceremony outside the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria.
Dancers circled the replica Haida mortuary pole, which has stood at the museum’s Thunderbird Park for almost 65 years, before it was hooked to a crane and gently brought to the ground.
It’s the second totem removed from the park in recent days after engineers determined the poles suffered internal damage through exposure to the elements and were at risk of falling.
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This morning, members of the Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw communities gathered in Thunderbird Park to commemorate the “retirement” of a Haida mortuary pole replica. The now-fragile pole was carved by Mungo Martin in 1955; today his descendants danced to cleanse the earth around it to ensure a safe and easy move. When it has been prepared for travel, the pole will be transported to Fort Rupert where Mungo Martin’s great-grandson, Chief David Mungo Knox of the Kwakiutl First Nation will facilitate the next step in its journey. See our IG story for more!
Hereditary Haida Chief Reg Young says the original pole was carved in honour of a woman from his village of Tanu who was murdered in the 19th century on the U.S. San Juan Islands, located between Vancouver Island and Washington state.
Young says mortuary poles included the remains of the deceased and were placed in villages to announce a person’s passing and reveal their status in the community.
The Haida pole will be transported to the Kwakiutl First Nation near Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island, the homeland of Mungo Martin, the Indigenous artist who carved both totems.
The Canadian Press