Haisla Nation, G’psgolox Pole
Location: Kitamaat Village, British Columbia (53.975045,-128.64707)
Time or Duration: 1872 – 2006

This report documents the theft of the mortuary G’psgolox totem pole of the British Columbia Haisla Nation by Swedish Consul Olof Hanson in 1929. After being severed at the base by Hanson, the G’psgolox pole was sent to Stockholm, where it became state property. It was held hostage by the National Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm for 77 years, unbeknownst to the Haisla Nation. When the Haisla Nation learned of its location after over sixty years of mystery, they engaged in fifteen years of negotiations with the museum concerning the totem’s repatriation. The Museum of Ethnography first demanded the G’psgolox pole be housed in a climate-controlled museum to prevent deterioration. This demand contradicted the cultural beliefs of the Haisla Nation, which anticipated that the pole would weather and return to the earth. Eventually, in 2006, a repatriation agreement was honoured, and the G’psgolox pole was returned to the Haisla Nation. In an act of friendship, the Haisla Nation offered the Museum of Ethnography a wooden replica.