Snapshots

A History of Violation: Why an Aboriginal grave site robbery is no isolated incident « mediaINDIGENA

In Tsartlip, a Coast Salish community near Victoria, BC, a family grieves the loss of a loved one for the second time. Back in 1999, a fatal car accident took the life of then-30 year old Frazer Joe Smith Jr.. Thirteen years later, the family struggles to understand the removal of a totem pole memorializing Smith. The graveside artwork was uprooted and stolen from the small community cemetery on February 21. But such thievery should not be viewed as an isolated incident.

As Indigenous people, we are all too familiar with the theft and displacement of that which is sacred to us. Across the globe, non-Aboriginal museums, art galleries, archives and private collections are filled with our totems and ceremonial regalia, even the remains of our ancestors.

The widespread theft of our sacred objects reflects a gap between Indigenous and western systems of meaning, and the way this gap manifests in law and other sites of power. During the early days of colonialism, the theft of our artifacts was seen as a way of capturing a ‘dead’ or ‘dying’ race; removal of those items, therefore, was meant to preserve or salvage remembrances of past-tense people.
Here in the present, we see that — despite the unrelenting efforts to assimilate us or obliterate our ceremonies — Indigenous peoples and cultures are thriving.

FULL ARTICLE: A History of Violation: Why an Aboriginal grave site robbery is no isolated incident « mediaINDIGENA.

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