Our Ancient Ones put animal-totem-designs on every household and personal item. Artists today use these same designs and flourish. For your reference in context, below is a mere introduction to our larger than life culture in respectful attitude to our peoples history. Note the scope of use for designs of animal-totems.
The video clip below is of the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver and shows the breadth of scope of our Ancient Ones dedicated skill to create abstract totems of animal designs.
Designs are not limited to poles. Traditional ceremonial regalia display intricate abstract animal designs as symbols on clothing and different carving mediums:
woven hats made of the cambium layer of cedar trees
Take a look at the video clip below for examples of animal-totem-designs on ceremonial regalia.
One icon still generating academic and commercial interest is the monolithic totem pole. Even today there are First Nations communities whose totems draw global tourist interest. Some tourists are so enchanted that they even drive to different communities just to see them. Check out the video clip below for a good example.
Gitanyow First Nations community Totem Poles
Traditional totem designs on poles are a historical record of a family’s or Clan’s Story of Origin and Survival. The stories are riveting to me as the element of supernatural is perfectly expressed.
Today more and more institutions include First Nations culture as a curriculum component that's available to non-First Nations students. Even some universities in both Canada and the U.S., offer studies to a Ph.D. level such as the longhouse at the First Nations House of Learning at U.B.C. in Vancouver.
It takes skill, knowledge, commitment and dedication to be an First Nations artist. Some elementary schools invite artists who are willing to share their gift and skills to work with students. That's when students can learn to drum, dance, sing, and how to make and use regalia. Even some institutions host a potlatch and serve a traditional menu. It's exciting to see a cultural play because they encapsulate our larger-than-life culture. The artist below is an example of my cousin, a Master Carver, now deceased, who visited elementary schools. Victor Reece, Tsimpsian First Nations Master Mask Carver
Below is my Uncle Sam, a Haisla Master Carver with a global following. Chief Tsa-ci, Sammy Robinson, Master Carver, X'aisla First Nation
Even when religions asked the existing intolerant federal government to ban the potlatch (and sun dance) ceremony's between 1884 to 1951, they did not disappear. Instead they went 'underground' to survive as you'll see in the video clip below.
The first to loot our cultural wealth was Franz Boaz an archeologist who dug up grave sites up and down our coastline for the Smithsonian Institute who paid him. Today the institute boasts the largest 'collection' of our Ancient Ones and even has the bones of our Ancient Ones. Some nations and communities are Repatriating their Ancestors bones for long overdue and rightful burial.
Today even Canada’s capital city of Ottawa has a Museum of History that boasts 'collections' of Our Ancient Ones as you'll see in the below video.
In the city of Vancouver at the University of B.C.'s Museum of Anthropology there are abstract designs of Our Ancient Ones has works of current artisans like my cousin, Master Carver Lyle Wilson who has since built his own shop where he lives in Vancouver, B.C. with his own family.
And, at U.B.C. there's a magnificent beautiful traditional designed building, the First Nations House of Learning, where First Nations students enroll to dedicate time for degrees and doctorates in different faculty's. Here's an additional historical post-script for you: acceptance into campus took our people twenty years of relentless political lobbying.
I was in UBC's first ironic 'Pilot' project to see if we were 'smart enough.' Its ironic because our culture is holistic, universal and individualistic, not based on greed for money.
I choose to believe that exposure to our history from our perspective in education institutions helps to combat institutionalized racism of Apartheid.
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