David Mungo Knox stands in front of the welcoming pole he helped restore. The pole was originally carved by his great-grandfather, Martin Mungo, his son David Martin and his niece, Mildred Hunt in commemoration of the first legal potlatch at the longhouse, which neighbours the Royal B.C. Museum. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Great-grandson of original carver helps restore totem pole at Royal B.C. Museum

The Kwakwaka’wakw Heraldic Pole was originally completed in 1953

The longhouse at Thunderbird Park welcomed back a long-standing totem after months of conservation efforts.

The Kwakwaka’wakw Heraldic Pole was carved in 1952-53 by Martin Mungo, his son David Martin and his niece, Mildred Hunt to commemorate the first legal potlach on site after the Potlatch Ban was lifted.

The pole has stood in place as a welcoming pole at the Thunderbird Park Longhouse, known as Wawadit’la, next to the Royal B.C. Museum (RBCM) for nearly 70 years.

PHOTOS: Totem pole comes down in Victoria’s Thunderbird Park

Martin Mungo’s great-grandson, Chief David Knox, Kwakiutl artist of Fort Rupert and Mervyn Child, son of Mildred Hut, worked on the restoration of the pole.

“Walking in my ancestors’ footsteps is unreal, and to be part of it and carry it on is amazing,” Knox said. “We’re making history and working with the the museum with a great collaboration. … It means so much to preserve it and carry it forward to teach and educate.”

Conservation included replacing nine patches of rotten wood, adding and sculpting new pieces, painting the pole and adding a steel support beam on the back side.

ALSO READ: 800-year-old tree to become UN project totem at UVic

Lou-Ann Neel is the repatriation specialist at the Royal B.C. Museum said crests on the pole represent neighboring nations and include a Thunderbird, representing the Awa’etlala at Tsawadi, also known as Knight Inlet; a grizzly bear holding copper, the original ancestors of the Kwagiulth, whose village today is at Tsaxis, near what is now known as Port Hardy; a beaver representing the ‘Nak’waxda’xw family from one of the main villages of called Ba’as, also known as Blunden Harbour; and Dzunukwa, the Wild Woman of the Woods, holding her child.

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria totem project matches people with master carver

The pole was welcomed back in a cleansing ceremony which included the burning of cedar boughs and dropping eagle down, followed by ceremonial dances and speeches in the longhouse. The final dance was between Knox and RBCM CEO Jack Lohman

“It’s incredibly important,” Neel said. “It’s a way the public can engage and learn about Indigenous people and know that what we have in the exhibitions upstairs are not representative of a dead culture, but just samples of cultures that are very much alive.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

First NationsRoyal BC Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“The Great Regional Air Hug” being organized by the Vanderhoof International Airshow committee

A multi-aircraft flyover over the region is being planned for August 15.

Drive-by parade being held for seniors in Vanderhoof

The route covers long-term care homes in the district as well as the hospital.

P.G.’s Barb Ward-Burkitt named new chair of Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women

A survivor of domestic abuse herself, Ward-Burkitt has served as vice-chair since 2018

Houston mill to re-open June 8

Ends lengthy shutdown which began in March

Daughter sets up GoFundMe page for mother recovering from a rare autoimmune disease

Jenn Farr Stephens, Vanderhoof resident, has been diagnose with Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Larva of voracious green crab discovered on North Coast

Public asked to retain the carcasses of these invasive species for DNA testing

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Williams Lake RCMP capture fugitive walking along Highway 97 in city limits

Witness said they could hear police yelling for suspect to ‘get down’

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Most Read