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

School district digs in on instruction resumption

Senior official calls the process a “marathon”

‘A positive move’: Mayor of Kitimat gives thoughts on new provincial, federal COVID-19 measures

The Province recently announced new powers for bylaw officers and bans on reselling food

Terrace dental clinic say no staff experiencing COVID-19 symptoms 22 days after dental conference

Five members of the office attended the Pacific Dental Conference from March 5-7

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

IN DEPTH: How B.C. emptied its hospitals to prepare for COVID-19

Thousands of beds have been freed up, but patients and seniors have had to sacrifice

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Crucial details of Ottawa’s proposed wage subsidy program expected today

The government has rolled out a bailout package totalling more than $200 billion

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 morning update: Olympics delayed one year; 12,000 health care workers infected

Comprehensive world news update: Lockdown in UK showing signs of hope

Newspapers are safe to touch, World Health Organization confirms

Just make sure to wash your hands as you would after touching any surface or object

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

Most Read