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 Aboriginal objects held in museums.
In this film, the Haisla of Kitamaat Village, B.C., tell the story of their efforts to reclaim a cultural heirloom: a mortuary totem pole taken from their ancestral lands, eventually discovered in a museum in Stockholm, Sweden. In broadcasts of the film on Swedish television the Haisla Aboriginal voice was heard and responded to. The people of Sweden put pressure on both the museum and the Swedish government to return the pole. [The pole’s return is documented in the follow-up film, Totem: Return and Renewal.]Gil Cardinal
From the playlist: The Aboriginal Voice: the National Film Board and Aboriginal Filmmaking through the Years