David Mungo Knox stands in front of the welcoming pole he helped restore. The pole was originally carved by his great-grandfather, Martin Mungo, his son David Martin and his niece, Mildred Hunt in commemoration of the first legal potlatch at the longhouse, which neighbours the Royal B.C. Museum. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Great-grandson of original carver helps restore totem pole at Royal B.C. Museum

The Kwakwaka’wakw Heraldic Pole was originally completed in 1953

The longhouse at Thunderbird Park welcomed back a long-standing totem after months of conservation efforts.

The Kwakwaka’wakw Heraldic Pole was carved in 1952-53 by Martin Mungo, his son David Martin and his niece, Mildred Hunt to commemorate the first legal potlach on site after the Potlatch Ban was lifted.

The pole has stood in place as a welcoming pole at the Thunderbird Park Longhouse, known as Wawadit’la, next to the Royal B.C. Museum (RBCM) for nearly 70 years.

PHOTOS: Totem pole comes down in Victoria’s Thunderbird Park

Martin Mungo’s great-grandson, Chief David Knox, Kwakiutl artist of Fort Rupert and Mervyn Child, son of Mildred Hut, worked on the restoration of the pole.

“Walking in my ancestors’ footsteps is unreal, and to be part of it and carry it on is amazing,” Knox said. “We’re making history and working with the the museum with a great collaboration. … It means so much to preserve it and carry it forward to teach and educate.”

Conservation included replacing nine patches of rotten wood, adding and sculpting new pieces, painting the pole and adding a steel support beam on the back side.

ALSO READ: 800-year-old tree to become UN project totem at UVic

Lou-Ann Neel is the repatriation specialist at the Royal B.C. Museum said crests on the pole represent neighboring nations and include a Thunderbird, representing the Awa’etlala at Tsawadi, also known as Knight Inlet; a grizzly bear holding copper, the original ancestors of the Kwagiulth, whose village today is at Tsaxis, near what is now known as Port Hardy; a beaver representing the ‘Nak’waxda’xw family from one of the main villages of called Ba’as, also known as Blunden Harbour; and Dzunukwa, the Wild Woman of the Woods, holding her child.

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria totem project matches people with master carver

The pole was welcomed back in a cleansing ceremony which included the burning of cedar boughs and dropping eagle down, followed by ceremonial dances and speeches in the longhouse. The final dance was between Knox and RBCM CEO Jack Lohman

“It’s incredibly important,” Neel said. “It’s a way the public can engage and learn about Indigenous people and know that what we have in the exhibitions upstairs are not representative of a dead culture, but just samples of cultures that are very much alive.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

First NationsRoyal BC Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kootenay couple escapes Spain – safe, sound, and in self-isoaltion

BC couple Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

Taking care of your mental health during COVID-19

Ways to cope with anxiety, stress and fear during these uncertain times.

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

MP Morrison touts non-partisan effort to provide relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government has announced a slew of economic initiatives for those impacted by the pandemic

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

‘There is community’: B.C. councillor welcomes new baby into world amid COVID-19 pandemic

‘I realize there’s much more than fear and worry… there is hope, there is new life’: Jason Lum

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

Most Read