Powell River Peak
David Brindle, September 7, 2016
Included in Tla’amin Nation’s final treaty agreement, which gave the first nation self-governance as of April 5, a small appendix on culture and heritage provides for the return of artifacts and cultural materials.
On Thursday, September 1, Royal BC Museum returned a small group of artifacts to Tla’amin.
“It’s important because this has all happened because of the self-government that is in place now,” said Tla’amin Nation hegus Clint Williams. “This is a pretty significant piece of work for anyone to achieve. Because of our self-governing status, it is possible to receive these artifacts and we want to welcome them in a good, positive way and receive them with good feeling.”
According to museum representatives, the most important piece among the returned items is a stone club.
“The stone club is a larger piece,” said Royal BC Museum curator Martha Black. “It’s carved and has a zoomorphic design on it.” Zoomorphic, said Black, refers to the carvings of animal-like heads on the club.
In some first nations along the Pacific Northwest coast, these type of clubs were often imbued with supernatural properties and played important functions in stories and establishment of traditional lands.
Williams said the pieces, particularly the club, are connected to Tla’amin traditional lands and a dark time from the past.
“It’s something to receive this because not all that long ago there was a goal to destroy and erase us from history,” said Williams. “It’s not a happy memory but we acknowledge and respect what’s still left there, because it’s powerful to see things from the past that have survived that chaotic time.”