The return of Haida human remains began with a few dedicated people and grew to involve hundreds of people. The Old Massett Repatriation Committee was formed in 1997. The Committee meets to plan, fundraise, sew button blankets, weave cedar mats, and make wax-dipped flowers. In 1999, the Skidegate Repatriation Committee formed so those ancestral remains could be brought home at once. The Haida Nation is proceeding as one Committee to repatriate our ancestors’ remains.
The return of Haida human remains began with a few dedicated people and grew to involve hundreds of people. The Old Massett Repatriation Committee was formed in 1997. The Committee meets to plan, fundraise, sew button blankets, weave cedar mats, and make wax-dipped flowers. In 1999, the Skidegate Repatriation Committee formed so those ancestral remains could be brought home at once. The Haida Nation is proceeding as one Committee to repatriate our ancestors’ remains.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Pamela White

Pamela White cutting out a design for a Repatriation button blanket.

Photo : Lucille Bell
c. 1999
© Lucille Bell


Vince Collison

Vince Collison cutting out a design for a Repatriation button blanket.

Photo : Lucille Bell.
c. 1999
© Lucille Bell


Sandra Bennett

Sandra Bennett preparing a button blanket.

Photo : Lucille Bell
c. 1999
© Lucille Bell


Leona Low, Rosa Bell, and Tracey Moore

Leona Low, Rosa Bell, and Tracey Moore making wax dipped flowers for the graves of their ancestors.

Photo: Vince Collison
c. 1998
© Vince Collison


The Repatriation project is just in the beginning stages. In 1998 we brought home seven ancestral remains from the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, British Columbia. In 1999 we repatriated six ancestral remains form the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, British Columbia.

We still have to repatriate our ancestors’ remains from other museums. The Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull has 147 Haida human remains. These ancestors are next to come home for reburial. In the United States, the Chicago Field Museum has 130 remains and the Natural History Museum in New York has eleven Haida remains.

European Museums have the earliest collected Haida human remains. The Pitt Rivers Museum and the British Museum each hold human remains. British legislation prevents all British Museums from repatriating.
There are also Haida human remains in other museums around the world. The Repatriation Committee is determined to locate and work towards bringing home all of our ancestors’ remains.
The Repatriation project is just in the beginning stages. In 1998 we brought home seven ancestral remains from the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, British Columbia. In 1999 we repatriated six ancestral remains form the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, British Columbia.

We still have to repatriate our ancestors’ remains from other museums. The Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull has 147 Haida human remains. These ancestors are next to come home for reburial. In the United States, the Chicago Field Museum has 130 remains and the Natural History Museum in New York has eleven Haida remains.

European Museums have the earliest collected Haida human remains. The Pitt Rivers Museum and the British Museum each hold human remains. British legislation prevents all British Museums from repatriating.
There are also Haida human remains in other museums around the world. The Repatriation Committee is determined to locate and work towards bringing home all of our ancestors’ remains.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Haidas have strong spiritual beliefs that make the repatriation project important. We believe that everyone has a spirit. The spirits of our ancestors have gone with the skeletal remains that are locked in museums. We believe there are 300 Haida spirits in museums that want to come home to Haida Gwaii. We all felt these spirits.

"Late one night at the Royal British Columbia Museum, I heard children’s voices in the stairway. I thought it was odd that children would be there so late. The guard said I was the only person there. I later learned that a 10 year - old Haida child’s skeleton is a part of the collection. I believe the spirit of this child wanted me to know he was there. To me, I was given a message to take to the Haida community."

- Lucille Bell, tsiij gitanee clan, 1998.

We came from the bones of our ancestors. It is therefore our responsibility to care for them.
Haidas have strong spiritual beliefs that make the repatriation project important. We believe that everyone has a spirit. The spirits of our ancestors have gone with the skeletal remains that are locked in museums. We believe there are 300 Haida spirits in museums that want to come home to Haida Gwaii. We all felt these spirits.

"Late one night at the Royal British Columbia Museum, I heard children’s voices in the stairway. I thought it was odd that children would be there so late. The guard said I was the only person there. I later learned that a 10 year - old Haida child’s skeleton is a part of the collection. I believe the spirit of this child wanted me to know he was there. To me, I was given a message to take to the Haida community."

- Lucille Bell, tsiij gitanee clan, 1998.

We came from the bones of our ancestors. It is therefore our responsibility to care for them.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Boxes

Haida bentwood boxes at the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology.

Photo: Courtesy of VTV

© VTV


Museum of Anthropology

University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology.

Photo: Courtesy of VTV

© VTV


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the Repatriation Project, and its current status
  • Explain why the Repatriation Project is important to the Haida people

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