Thursday, September 14, 2006

T’ixwelátsa Is Coming Home to Chilliwack, At Last

. . . Down through the ages, generations of Chilliwack people cared for the stone T’ixwelátsa, assigning him a place of honour outside the great houses of important Chilliwack families. The statue was venerated as physical evidence of the Chilliwacks’ association with their homelands from the beginning of time, and also of that moment in history when X:als moved across the face of the earth and created a world in which people flourished and prospered.

Then came the smallpox, wave upon wave of European settlement, and confinement to Native reserves. The Chilliwacks were decimated, and there were empty villages everywhere. The Potlatch Law of 1884 disrupted the persistence of customary law by prohibiting the ceremonial assignment of duties, entitlements, and property. The Chilliwacks’ stone ancestor ended up alone in the ruins of an abandoned village, just east of the Huntington border crossing, south of Abbotsford.


On September 15, 1892, an article appeared in the Chilliwack Progress reporting that the Ward brothers, whose farm was situated not far from Vedder Crossing, had come upon “a curiously carved Indian image” on Sumas Prairie. “The image is about four feet high, and weighs about 600 lbs. It is evidently very ancient, and is quite intact, every detail being clearly defined.”

A century later, Herb Joe, chief of the Tzeachten band of the Chilliwack tribe—the man who had also inherited the name T’ixwelátsa—learned that the stone containing the soul of his tribe’s ancestor, the statue that had been so long venerated by the Chilliwack people, was in the possession of the Burke Museum in Seattle.


Joe set in motion a process of negotiations, research, applications, and proceedings under the United States’ Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). And the result, after all these years, is that the T’ixwelátsa stone, catalogue #152, accession #190, is finally coming home.

That's from my column this week, here.

I've been quiet lately. On account of moving, and getting ready for teaching again, and making top-secret plans for mischief of one kind and another.

But the new neighbourhood is pretty nice, I think. It's still quite a bit like this:

That's a painting by Edward Goodall. He always had an eye for this coast.

3 Comments:

Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Nice indeed. I, for example, see a grocery store across the street when out of the front door.

On the other hand that grocery comes handy quite frequently ;-)

3:03 AM  
Blogger tglavin said...

We've got a grocery store, a video store, a pub, a coffee shop and a pharmacy, all within two blocks. Nya nya.

It's quite the novelty, the New Releases shelf having films more recent than the Sound of Music.

We're All Townies Now.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Scout said...

Repatriation is happening a lot more (thank gawdess). There's no reason in the world technology can't replicate artifacts to a "T" and have them displayed and the real McCoy go back to where it belongs.

In many instances this requires bands to have their own museums, but many of the artifacts should be buried. I'm reminded of last year's liberation from the Bishop Museum in Hawaii. The outcry was 'THEFT" from western perspective , but the real theft happened when the goods were taken and put in the museum as paid aquistion or not.

I'm glad to hear T'ixwelatsa is coming home.

8:41 PM  

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