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

FVRL launches online library cards

FVRL’s services have evolved

Police seek suspects allegedly using counterfeit cash at Hope gas station

RCMP say the two suspects attempted to pay with 100 and 50 dollar bills

Mission has two confirmed cases of COVID-19 at care home

Two residents at Chartwell Cedarbrooke Retirement Residence have been diagnosed says Fraser Health

District of Hope working with businesses on ‘voluntary shutdowns’

Portable washrooms open, campground closed to visitors amid COVID-19 response

Shots fired in Abbotsford, but no victims or suspects found

Incident occurs Tuesday afternoon at Whatcom and Old Yale roads

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Abbotsford man who tries to start gas-station fight gets sprayed with gasoline

Suspect returns with knife and throws it at victim, but is quickly arrested by police

Abbotsford family of 5 who was stuck in Vietnam is now back home

Janzen family sends ‘huge and heartfelt’ thank you to everyone who helped

Most Read