Kwakwaka’wakw carver and Chief Rande Cook, who created an ancestral totem pole for display last summer at a museum in the Netherlands, returned this month with a small local delegation to bless the pole’s move to its new, permanent location outside the facility.
Cook, Chief William Wasden Jr. and Mike Willie traveled Apr. 3 to Leiden, Holland, to assist in taking down the pole from the Museum Volkenkunde, where it had been the focal point of an exhibit on North American aboriginal culture.
The pole was moved outside and erected in the plaza in front of the museum, where it will remain on permanent display.
“It was a day to remember”, said Cook, who was chosen to carve his ancestral figures from the Gigalgam of the ‘Namgis. “It was all about sharing who we are and where we come from. It also marked the beginning of a good relationship with the Netherlands.”
Chief Waxawidi, William Wasden Jr., is from the oldest bloodline that goes back to the first ancestor of the Gilgalgam clan and holds the head seat.
“Together, they showed the strength of their ancestors in the Netherlands,” said Willie.
One of the highlights of the trip was meeting the Princess Margaret of the Netherlands. During the Second World War, the princess’s parents moved Ottawa, while the Germans were occupying the Netherlands. It was there Princess Margaret was born.
“Chief Rande Cook would like to thank the Netherlands, in particularly the Volkenkunde Museum in Leiden, for opening their door and allowing is to share our language and culture,” said Willie. “It means a lot to the Kwakwaka’wakw to be able to express our culture freely. He would also like to thank his family and friends for standing behind him through this whole journey. Gilakasda’xw’la! (thank you all).