Centuries-old artifacts belonging to a Nineteenth-century Plains Cree chief who was often called a peacemaker have been returned to his descendants throughout a repatriation ceremony on the Royal Ontario Museum.
After months of debate, the Toronto-based museum on Wednesday returned a ceremonial pipe and saddlebag that belonged to Chief Poundmaker to members of his household.
Pauline Poundmaker, or Brown Bear Lady, led efforts to repatriate her great-grandfather’s possessions and sacred objects from collections held in Canada and internationally.
“It is an honor to be the era that may convey these artifacts house,” she mentioned in a cellphone interview.
Underneath Poundmaker Cree Nation legal guidelines, descendants are required to provoke and lead repatriation. Poundmaker’s kinfolk are striving to convey house his private belongings, which they are saying have been forcibly taken from him.
Pauline Poundmaker traveled from Saskatchewan to Toronto this week with 9 others, together with different direct descendants, to take part in a repatriation ceremony with workers on the museum.
It was the primary time she had seen the 2 gadgets in individual that belonged to her nice grandfather. The particular second was sacred and emotional, she mentioned.
“I had a second there the place I could not maintain again the tears. The that means of being right here and the consideration of with the ability to convey these artifacts house. It is arduous to explain.”
The museum acquired the 2 gadgets nearly a century in the past. The saddle bag is fabricated from brown leather-based and embellished with beads in colours starting from crimson, yellow and inexperienced. The museum mentioned the merchandise was bought to them in 1924.
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The ceremonial pipe is darkish in colour and fabricated from ceramic or stone. Like many First Nations customs objects used throughout ceremony, the pipe can’t be photographed. The museum mentioned in an e-mail that data from the donor signifies that Chief Poundmaker gave the pipe to a health care provider in 1885, after which it was handed on to others within the medical discipline earlier than the museum obtained it in 1936.
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The ROM didn’t make any representatives obtainable for an interview earlier than the repatriation ceremony.
Poundmaker, whose Cree identify is Pitikwahanapiwiyin, is taken into account one of many nice indigenous leaders of the Nineteenth century and was key in negotiations that led to Treaty 6, protecting the west-central parts of present-day Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Quite a lot of the chief’s belongings have been taken and housed in museums after the North West Rise up in 1885 – the identical yr Poundmaker was convicted of treason for main his warriors in battle in opposition to Canadian forces after authorities troopers killed round 1,500 indigenous individuals attacked, together with ladies and youngsters. He served seven months earlier than dying shortly after his launch.
Because the Poundmaker household strives to convey house Chief Poundmaker’s private artifacts, they proceed to be impressed by his willingness to peacefully get up for what he believed in, Pauline Poundmaker mentioned.
Final yr, Parks Canada returned a ceremonial workers believed to belong to Chief Poundmaker to be displayed on the museum named in his honor in Saskatchewan.
Pauline Poundmaker says the rising motion of establishments repatriating gadgets exhibits that there’s a willingness to handle previous harms in opposition to indigenous peoples.
“It is an attractive shift to have completely different relationships and write a special historical past,” she mentioned.
The saddlebag might be on show on the Chief Gunner Museum and the ceremonial pipe might be positioned in safekeeping on the museum. The museum’s job is to ensure they’re outfitted with the instruments to protect the gadgets for generations to return, Pauline Poundmaker mentioned.
“We wish to proceed to protect our historical past and honor historical past.”
She was informed there have been about 20 different gadgets unfold throughout North America and Europe. The household is to start with levels of getting two different gadgets repatriated.
Final yr, the Royal Ontario Museum briefly closed its gallery devoted to First Peoples’ artwork and tradition to work with Indigenous museum professionals on what they name vital adjustments to the gallery.
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