Hereditary Chief Noel Pootlass holds up the original raven mask while carver Skip Saunders follows with the replica he carved himself.

Ceremonial mask makes journey for a meaningful visit home

Representatives from the Seattle Art Museum journeyed to Nuxalk territory and issued an apology during a potlatch.

Representatives from the Seattle Art Museum journeyed to Nuxalk territory and issued an apology during a potlatch held by Hereditary Chief Charles Nelson on September 27, 2014. With them they brought the ceremonial raven forehead mask which had been previously the centre of a controversial Super Bowl wager between the Seattle Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum.

Due to the concern of Nuxalk Nation members, the raven mask was withdrawn from the Super Bowl bet. Despite the conflict with the museum, the relationship now moves in a positive direction. Gifts were presented to the Acwsalcta School on behalf of the museum, including art supplies, books and games. There is also open discussion that the mask will be displayed at the school in the future.

Using the pictures and dimensions the museum gave to Wally Webber, Skip Saunders was able to carve a replica of the mask. Elders, hereditary chiefs and community members welcomed both masks and witnessed the past coming together with the present.

Historically, masks and other ceremonial items were confiscated by authorities during the Potlatch Ban in 1885. Anyone taking part in a potlatch was threatened with imprisonment. The original forehead mask was created around 1880 and it is unclear how it left the Bella Coola Valley. It was donated to the Seattle Art Museum by John H. Hauberg in 1991.

In an interview with Karen Anderson, she stated that “some masks were taken from graves or taken as collateral.” The mystery surrounding how the mask left Bella Coola highlights the importance of the raven mask coming home. Other Nuxalk masks and items remain in museums and private collections worldwide and their sacredness and importance is not forgotten.

Just Posted

Bella Coola to benefit from massive investment in coastal internet

A combined investment of $45.4 million will bring new and updated high-speed internet on the coast

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

O’Reilly trial scheduled to start January 15 for Anahim Lake murders

O’Reilly is charged with first-degree murder

School District 49 to re-open Nusatsum Elementary in September 2018

SD49 says increasing enrollment is driving its decision to re-open the school

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

‘Sing Me a Song’ about B.C. for a chance at $1,000 contest prize

Entries due by March 30 for lieutenant-governor’s British Columbia-themed competition

Facing reality of death, B.C. man learns real meaning of life

Even while preparing for the end, something inside Keven Drews won’t let him stop living

Most Read