Haida House and pole. Source: Duff and Kew, 1957.
A month or two ago I made several posts (1 , 2, 3) about a forthcoming musical called Beyond Eden, which tells the story of the 1957 expedition to ‘rescue’ poles from the Haida Town of SGang Gwaay (PDF).
I notice The Tyee has a very good overview of this musical (which opens tonight) including some comments from Roy Jones Sr. of Skidegate, last seen on this blog as a young man climbing poles in 1957 CBC archival footage. Says The Tyee:
Now in his mid-80s, he is reflective about the experience, having enjoyed the physical work and the company of members of the crew — but about cutting the poles? “It didn’t feel right,” he said. However, the Skidegate Band Council had approved the work and many felt it was the right thing to do. Further to that, Jones was on a recent trip to The Chicago Field Museum and saw one of the poles taken from Skedans (an expedition he was also on). “If they hadn’t taken it at that time, it would have been ruined, I think,” he said.
It is good to see some Haida perspective on both the events of 1957 and on this musical. I also didn’t realize Nathalie at the Qay museum was a student of Wilson Duff’s — I’ll have to buy her a coffee and pump her for stories next time I am up on the islands. It’s a good article — The Tyee is doing some of the best journalism in BC right now.
Poster for "Beyond Eden" musical. Click to buy tickets; scroll down for title song.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, archives, Cultural Resource Management, Haida Gwaii, history, Northwest Coast
Tagged anthropology, Haida, Haida Gwaii, history, Kunghit Haida, museums, musicals, Ninstints, SGang Gwaay, Wilson Duff
John Mann of Spirit of the West in "Beyond Eden"
I can hardly believe this, but the Vancouver Playhouse is mounting a new musical based on an event familiar to to all students of archaeology and anthropology n BC. The musical stars John Mann from the band Spirit of the West. From Tom Hawthorn’s blog:
Written by Bruce Ruddell with musical direction by Bill Henderson, formerly of Chilliwack, the musical premieres on Jan. 16 at the Vancouver Playhouse. The musical is based on a 1957 expedition to the Queen Charlotte Islands by the archeologist Wilson Duff and his Haida friend, the artist Bill Reid.
Mr. Mann portrays a character based on the archaeologist, a man who travelled to Haida Gwaii to preserve totem poles, which he bought for $50 each. These can now be seen at the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria and the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver.
“Off the top he believes his job is to keep those poles alive because you can learn from them,” Mr. Mann said. “If they rot, they’re lost, they’re gone forever. No one will be able to study them.
“In the course of those three days, his mind is changed. Then all hell breaks loose.”
This is remarkable and interesting on a number of levels. I’d love to see it.
Wilson Duff was one of the first modern Anthropologists and Archaeologists to work in British Columbia and it seems he had just got started when he died by his own hand in 1976, at the age of 51.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Haida Gwaii, history, Northwest Coast, odd
Tagged anthropology, Archaeology, Bill Reid, Haida, Haida Gwaii, history, musicals, Northwest Coast, ubc, Vancouver Playhouse, Wilson Duff