Replica Pole (RBCM 20127)
This is a version of one of several poles that were removed from the Gitxsan community of Gitanyow (formerly known as Kitwancool) by the British Columbia Totem Pole Preservation Committee with the permission of the Gitanyow hereditary chiefs. As part of the agreement, the histories of the poles were recorded and published as Histories, Territories and Laws of the Kitwancool (British Columbia Provincial Museum, 1959). Also as part of the agreement, replica poles were carved in Thunderbird Park and erected at Gitanyow. This is a replica version of the pole named Skim-sim and Will-a-daugh. It belongs to Ernest Smith, Chief Wiha (Wee-ka, or Weehae), of a wilp (house group) recorded as Gilt-Winth of the Wolf clan (Lax Gibuu). The original pole is in the collection of the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology (A50019). A replica carved in Thunderbird Park was returned to Gitanyow. This, the second replica, was made for Thunderbird Park in 1960.
At the top of the pole is an image of the Giant Woodpecker (Wee-get-welku), a crest that originated with the story of an ancestress who kept a woodpecker as a pet, feeding it constantly. It turned into a huge monster and ate everything made of wood before it was finally killed. Five small figures below the Giant Woodpecker are the House Carvings. The next figure is Mountain Eagle (Skim-sim) who kidnapped and married a young woman and devoured their offspring. (According to Duff, the large bird is the mother of the Prince of the Wolves.) Next are eleven small human figures, who fish through holes in the ice. The bottom figure is Will-a-daugh holding her child. Will-a-daugh was a chief’s niece at Ke-an (Prince Rupert) who conceived a child from a wood grub. The nose of the ancestress on the original pole was probably long and sharp edged, as anthropologist Marius Barbeau in Totem Poles of the Gitksan, Upper Skeena River, British Columbia (National Museums of Canada, 1929) described the figure as “Person-with-a-large-nose holding a child or human being in its hands.”
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