Ancient Totem Pole Going Back Home
A 130 year old Canadian Totem pole, steeped in legend, that has been in the possession of a Swedish Museum for 77 years, will be returned home this week to a Canadian Native Indian tribe at a ceremony in Stockholm.
The nine-meter high, red cedar wood pole was donated to the Museum of Ethnography in 1929 by Sweden’s then vice - consul to British Columbia, Olof Hansson, who had it chopped down and shipped to Sweden under dubious circumstances.
The artefact will be formally returned to the Haisla First Nation tribe at the Stockholm museum on Tuesday.
The Totem Pole is one of the Haisla tribe’s most culturally significant treasures. 15 members of the tribe will be at the museum in Stockholm when the arterfact is formally returned on Tuesday.
The pole, carved in British Columbia in the 1870s, is one of the world’s oldest preserved objects of its kind. It’s believed to be the first artifact to be voluntarily returned directly to a Canadian aboriginal group from a collection in a country outside of North America.
Relatives of the pole’s original owners discovered that the state-run museum had the totem pole in 1991 and sent a replica in the hopes of getting the original back.
The Swedish government decided to repatriate the pole in 1994, but the process took time because the museum sought a guarantee from the Haisla tribe that it would properly preserved.
”We are happy to finally be able to return it. We think that by doing so we will receive so much more than we will lose,” the museum director said.