This feature-length documentary traces the journey of the Haisla people to reclaim the G'psgolox totem pole that went missing from their British Columbia village in 1929. The fate of the 19th century traditional mortuary pole remained unknown for over 60 years until it was discovered in a Stockholm museum where it is considered state property by the Swedish government.Director Gil Cardinal combines interviews, striking imagery and rare footage of master carvers to raise questions about ownership and the meaning of Indigenous objects held in museums.
Ages 16 to 17
Family Studies/Home Economics - Feminism
History and Citizenship Education - Culture and Currents of Thought (1500-present)
History and Citizenship Education - Issues in Society Today
Indigenous Studies - Arts
Before viewing, have students research totem poles and similar artefacts. After viewing, students may examine totems in pop culture (e.g., logos, iPhones) and/or create personal totems. Have media and film students ask: who is the intended audience? how has this film contributed to the return of the pole? how can documentaries nurture tolerance in a diverse society? Students can debate museums' rights to the cultural artefacts of others.