Welcome to all chiefs, elders, and Musqueam representatives; Haida from Haida Gwaii, the Lower Mainland, Alaska, Washington
State; special guests from Fiji and the Hopi Nation; visitors, friends, and alumni.
This poleraising is a very important event for us all. It is the first such event to take place at the Museum in almost 20
years. It represents the culmination of nearly 10 years' effort to raise funds needed to commission a new Haida pole to replace
the pole Bill Reid carved in 1962, the finest of his sculptures for the Haida House complex. Over the 38 years that it has stood
in front of the Haida house it has weathered to the point where it now needs to be brought indoors so that it can be preserved for
future generations. Major funding for this project has come from the Canada Council Millennium Arst Fund. The poleraising also
offers an extraordinary opportunity for the museum, the Haida people, and the diverse publics we serve to join together and to
mark the new millennium by celebrating a legacy for the future.
It was Bill Reid's wish that a new pole, reflecting the highest standard of contemporary Haida art, be raised in place of his
older work. Jim Hart has designed the pole in consultation with Bill Reid's family and Haida chiefs and elders. He began carving
in January 2000 at his home community of Massett on Haida Gwaii, working together with Haida apprentices Oliver Bell, Nika Collison
(Bill Reid's granddaughter), Michael Nicoll, Paul White, and Deryl Colerman, along with other friends and community members from
Old Massett and Skidegate. Further work was done after the pole arrived here last week, and the finishing touches will be put on
it after it is raised.
Jim Hart has had a long association with the Museum of Anthropology that goes back about 20 years. In 1982 he carved and raised a
new pole on the Museum grounds, a copy of a 19th century pole from his home village of Old Massett. Jim was born in 1952 in Massett.
As part of his training as a carver, he apprenticed with Robert Davidson. He also assisted Bill Reid for four years, carving such
monumental works as The Raven and the First Men. His approach to carving has focussed very much on building upon the work of earlier
generations of Haida carvers. The old work, including that of his great-great grandfather, Charles Edenshaw, he says, is his "best
teacher." "That's where the strength is," he has said, "and it's my job to carry on, to keep it strong in our minds."
Last summer Jim held a potlatch and poleraising at home in Old Massett. At that time he took on his inherited position as a chief
of his clan, the Sdast'aas Eagles. He now holds the title once held by his great-great-grandfather and Bill Reid's great-uncle, 7idansuu.
The Museum of Anthropology is very proud of the historical role it has been able to play in supporting the new phase of Haida art
that Bill Reid did so much to initiate. But we also recognize that the museum's role has changed. The way in which this new pole
was created and carved - in Haida Gwaii, managed entirely by Haida - is emblematic of the new kinds of partnerships in which we work
today. We recognize that the proper presentation and witnessing of the new totem pole through ceremony, and the public acknowledgement
of Haida protocol, are as vital to the pole's meaning as are the carved figures themselves. The poleraising event is an extraordinary
opportunity for First Nations and non-First Nations people to participate as a community to raise the pole together and bear witness to
the historic moment that the pole represents. It also represents our ongoing commitment to serve originating peoples, in this case
urban and on-island Haida, as they further strengthen the links between their communities and between their historic art and living
I want to thank the Canada Council Millennium Arts Fund for its generous support of this project. I would also like to thank the
Vancouver Foundation, the Kaatza Foundation, and the Bill Reid Invitational Concert Series for further grants that made this pole
raising possible. Thank you, too, to all the MOA staff who have worked with Jim and his crew over the last months, and to all of
you who have travelled from far and near to be with us today.