1973 Aboriginal Perspective on UBC-MOA and SFU archaeology

Excerpt of 1973 Nesika newsletter criticizing MOA and SFU Archaeology. Click to view full page. Scroll down this page for link to plain text.

This is interesting, from the newsletter Nesika: Voice of B.C. Indians Vol. 2 No. 1 (February 1973), Page 6:

MONEY FOR BOAT: There is money to fund a boat to take archaeology students up and down our coastline to dig up the bones of our grandfathers and sift, sort, and label sacred objects from our burial grounds, but no money for us to treat our heritage with the dignity it. deserves?

This can only refer to the former pride and joy of the SFU department of Archaeology, the motor vessel Sisiutl.

That page from Nesika has two interesting articles.  One argues for the creation of a Cultural Centre at Hesquiat, while the other passionately objects to the millions spent on the UBC Museum of Anthropology and the above-mentioned Sisiutl.  Click on the image above for a legible image of the entire text, or click here for a transcript.  It is chastening to see the eloquence and power of these arguments from almost 40 years ago.  Hesquiat still has no Cultural Centre so far as I know while the Museum of Anthropology just wrapped up a 60+ million dollar renovation and SFU Archaeology has what amounts to their own, brand-new building as well, at what I hear was a cost of about 5 million dollars.

HESQUIAT BAND CULTURAL CENTRE

Lack of funds hit by Chief Rocky Amos

VANCOUVER (Staff) — After Indian Affairs had denied a request for funds for the Hesquiat Cultural Centre due to lack of funds, Band Chief Rocky Amos told the department that “we cannot accept the limitation of funds as valid.” Pointing to the $10 million available to a museum to house Indian artifacts at UBC and to other reports of funds granted for more white people to study Indians, Chief Amos wrote DIA: “It is difficult to follow the line of thinking that makes money available to exhibit our inheritance to city based people and when the rightful heirs to these very artifacts ask for assistance to house their history in an area where it will be meaningful to them, they are denied. “We of the Hesquiat Band are not unique and we have proven we can do it. Now we are made to crawl on our stomachs begging for funds to house our heritage. My pride is aching from begging but my pride also screams in agony when our people are forced into whitemen’s museums to see their inheritance.”

As the second article concludes in terms it is hard to argue with:

If there is money available for museums to store stolen work, then there is money available for museums to be built where that work belongs. With the children and grandchildren of the artists who represented a culture and society which has not, despite all efforts, conveniently died.

First custom built archaeology research vessel in North America: The Sisiutl. Recently scrapped by SFU. Source: American Antiquity.

PS: kudos to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs for putting so much archival information online.  In related news, I previously linked to the archives of the Native Voice, which is another great resource for understanding First Nations politics and which also contains intriguing aboriginal perspectives on the practice of BC Archaeology.

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