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‘Welcome home, dear ancestor’: after nearly a century, a stolen totem pole returns to the Nisg̱a’a Nation – The Narwhal

Oct. 17, 2023

The long-awaited rematriation of the pts’aan offers a template for the return of Indigenous belongings

Under a protective blanket of low clouds, the Wilps Ni’isjoohl memorial pole returned to Nisg̱a’a territory almost a century after it was stolen in 1929. Imbued with the spirits of ancestors and carved with the crests of names that live on today, the pts’aan (pole) is more than an object — it is an ancestor. Its return to Nisg̱a’a lands was observed with comparable ceremony and protocol for bringing home a loved one who passed.

In Laxg̱alts’ap, a few kilometres from where it once stood in the village of Ank’idaa on the banks of K’alii Aksim Lisims (Nass River), the clouds drifted away and the ancestor breathed Nisg̱a’a air and felt the warmth of the late September sun. An eagle flew slowly across the valley and ravens watched from the surrounding forest as family from Wilps (House) Ni’isjoohl of the G̱anada (raven/frog) clan gathered to celebrate with other citizens of the Nisg̱a’a Nation and guests.

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