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

COLUMN: Gardening is balm for your soul

Some expert tips to help build your green-thumb this year

Local First Nations pro-active in dealing with COVID-19

“We are in it for the long haul.”

COVID-19: Stepping away from the ordinary

Freelance writer Marcie Callewaert talks about her self-isolation in Ahousaht

Tofino-Ucluelet choir conductor launches singing contest

“What motivates me is making my community happy.”

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

Independent investigation praises RCMP actions in Vancouver Island suicide attempt

Man hurt in incident that took place near Nanoose Bay in September of 2019

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

North Cowichan to police popular trails to ensure physical distancing

“You can expect delays accessing Mount Tzouhalem, or even to be turned away.”

Most Read