The Times-Colonist has another article (PDF) on the seated human figure bowl which may go up for auction as part of a crass CBC reality TV show. The new article has some good information about the bowl from Grant Keddie and reactions from the B.C. Archaeology Branch and the CBC. Thanks to twoeyes for posting this article in comments in the prior post; I thought it needed a new entry of its own.
The bowl was apparently found in Qualicum Beach in 1988, and is known to the Royal BC Museum – it has been photographed by them (see screenshot above). I’m not sure if there has been any publications about this bowl, if the Qualicum First Nation knew about it before this mini-controversy, or what has been said to the owner about the importance of the item. The Times-Colonist does have some interesting quotes from those involved.
“The archeology branch is concerned that offering such items for sale, and attaching a monetary value to them, will promote illegal collection of artifacts and illegal excavations in protected archeological sites,” said a ministry spokesman. “We are therefore respectfully requesting that this item not be offered at auction.” Later on in the article, the Director of the Archaeology Branch, Justine Batten, notes the bowl was found before the current Heritage Conservation Act came into force. “The province’s only option would be to designate the bowl as a provincial heritage object, which would preclude the object from leaving the province but not from being sold. However, this artifact is not considered a good candidate for designation because the owners are unwilling.”
Because the owners are unwilling. Green light! You can sell it and if you don’t want it designated, then that won’t happen.
The current owner quoted in the article sounds ok, if a little gormless – the bowl just wants to have fun.
Grant Keddie notes the RBCM would love to have it for their collection — no doubt! Though it’s an odd sentiment juxtaposed with comments from the Qualicum First Nation’s spokesperson. Keddie notes it can’t be easily exported, which is good, but in essence substitutes an assertion of Canadian cultural patrimony over top of the First Nations’ interests..
I mean, it seems to me if the bowl ends up in Victoria, then from the First Nation’s perspective, it might have been exported as surely as if it went to New York.
I don’t know, the tone of the authorities as quoted does not seem to be raising the appropriate ethical issues around this object. As noted in the previous post and its comments, these bowls may be considered to be animate beings, persons even, and the discussion around them should probably not be limited to the law. Indeed, it might not have been, if the government let one of the actual ministry archaeologists working for them to be interviewed and quoted on the topic.
Maybe the CBC – which stand to make advertising dollars from recklessly toying with it – should buy it and donate it. After all, they do sound pleased about the controversy – free publicity in the Times-Colonist! (And on this blog! — oops). Maybe the Archaeology Branch should send a stronger signal of disapproval – if in fact, they actually disapprove. Maybe we should hear from the BCAPA, the ASBC, and the CAA (if we haven’t already).