Over 136 traditional bentwood burial boxes are being created by Haida master carvers and apprentices. This ancient art of steaming, kerfing and bending a plank of cedar into a box is being done to rebury Haida ancestral remains from the Chicago Field Museum.
This summer, Master Artists Christian White, James Sawyer and Andy Wilson led crews of Haida youths through the journey. Youths including Josh Collison, James Robinson and Andrew Abrahams learned how to make boxes, paint crest designs, helped with fundraising and learned about the Haida repatriation effort. This was a learning experience that they can be proud of!
The next step is to get the community involved in painting traditional crest designs onto the burial boxes. This is important as it encourages the community to take ownership and become aware of their ancestors who have been stored on metal shelves in Chicago for over 100 years.
The Haida delegations will travel to Chicago October 10 to repatriate the ancestral remains that come from villages all over Haida Gwaii. Once the remains are brought home, they will be wrapped in traditional button blankets sewn by school children and placed in burial boxes for final burial.
The boxes need to be completed before the October 25 and 26th reburials, therefore community input and donations of wood and paint supplies are greatly needed!
The Haida Repatriation Committees received assistance from Gwaii Trust, Weyerhaeuser, Skeena Native Development Society, the Old Massett and Skidegate Councils and AbFam.
For more info, visit the artists’ carving studios or call Lucille, 626-5115 or e-mail email@example.com
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