Refurbished pole raised at Mungo Martin House

After months of conservation work, an original Mungo Martin pole has been re-erected in front of Wawadit’la, also known as Mungo Martin House, on the grounds of Thunderbird Park.

The restoration was undertaken by the Royal B.C. Museum. The pole, known as the Kwakwaka’wakw Heraldic Pole, was carved in 1952-53 by Mungo Martin, his son David Martin and his niece, Mildred Hunt.

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Central figures in the pole’s conservation, which included carving of new elements, were carried out by Kwakwaka’wakw Chief David Knox, Mungo Martin’s great-grandson, and Mervyn Child, Mildred Hunt’s son.

“It’s an honour to walk in my great-grandfather’s footsteps to preserve our heritage,” said Knox, of Fort Rupert.

“It’s important to teach the world our cultural traditions, especially young learners who are curious to know about carving and the history of the poles.”

Besides the new elements, the work included removal of moss and other organic debris, drying out the pole, a fresh coat of paint and a reinforced steel support beam attached to the pole’s back side.

Members of the museum’s conservation, facilities and Indigenous collections and repatriation departments consulted with, and worked alongside, Knox and Child to ensure the museum was handling the pole appropriately at all stages.

“The Royal B.C. Museum is recognized as a world leader in the repatriation and the conservation of Indigenous belongings, sacred treasures and ancestral remains,” said Royal B.C. Museum CEO Jack Lohman.

“We occupy this role because we believe this is a critical route to repairing relationships with Indigenous communities and living the values of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The public can view the restored pole and other totem poles at Thunderbird Park on the grounds of the Royal B.C. Museum at 675 Belleville St.

For more information about the Mungo Martin pole’s history, the figures featured along its length, and the history and status of other poles in the park, go to thunderbird-park-poles.

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