Indigenous International Repatriation Conference 2017
Start Date: Sep 25, 2017 - 12:00am
Location: Isleta Resort & Casino
Panel Title: The Smith Family Totem Pole: Stewardship and Collaboration Between the Tlowitsis Nation and the University of New Mexico
Contemporary museum practices necessitate reconciliation with source communities for better stewardship. The 1941 donation of an Alaskan Tlingit totem pole to UNM’s Maxwell Museum served as an icon of salvage anthropology. The recent collaboration of the Maxwell Museum, Department of Anthropology, and Ortiz Center with the Tlowitsis Nation exposed documentation of its theft. This hereditary chief’s pole, commissioned by Smith Sewid and carved by Charlie Yakuglas James, is from Kalugwis on Turnour Island, B.C. The roundtable addresses its restoration and re-dedication while returning cultural and artistic knowledge to community. Participants discussed the pole’s problematic acquisition, project history, and future Indigenous needs.