Saturday, January 16, 2010

FAC returns totem pole to Alaskan tribe

Posted By on Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 3:12 PM

Most Fine Arts Center Visitors recall the beautiful totem pole which used to anchor a corner of the museum's courtyard. Since the expansion began in 2006, the pole has been in storage. But now it will stand next to a restored Haida longhouse in its original home in Kasaan, Alaska.

According to an FAC press release:

While in storage, FAC Curator Tariana Navas-Nieves had conversations with representatives of the Haida peoples of Kasaan, Alaska, to inquire about their wishes for the piece. The totem pole, named for the tribe’s Chief Son-i-Hat, originally stood in front of the Chief’s home at Old Kasaan.

In a significant stroke of good fortune, the tribe had recently begun a fund-raising campaign to restore the Chief’s home at Old Kasaan, the only remaining traditional Haida longhouse in Alaska. That’s when the FAC offered to return the piece to the tribe.

The 51-foot pole is made from yellow cedar and was carved in 1870. The FAC rescued the piece in 1951 from a Los Angeles lumber yard.

According to a formal statement in the press release, village president Richard Peterson thanks the FAC and Colorado Springs for this act. Native American tribes often struggle to take artifacts back from museums, despite the tribes' rightful ownership.

For more, read the full press release here.

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