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G'psgolox Totem Pole

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Sarah Gabor-Martinez

on 8 February 2016

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Transcript of G'psgolox Totem Pole

G'psgolox Totem Pole
"He went into the forest, he was walking aimlessly. He was in so much grief. He came upon a little man. The man asked him why he was so sad? What caused him so much of his sorrow? And he told him that his family died. With the exception of his wife and he didn't know it at the time but the person he encountered was a mythical being and his name is Tsooda. And Tsooda told him to go back to where he buried his family and at that time the burial was on top of the trees and he was given a crystal and was told, when you go at the base of the tree and before you call down your family you take a bite off this crystal and he did as he was instructed.He went back and He took a bite from the crystal. and he called to his family to wake up come down from where you laying and he was surprised when they all sat up and coming down from the tree top. And among his family was this little man that he encountered in the forest. and as a result of that encounter G'psgolox hired two raven chiefs to carve out the mythical being Tsooda."
So What Is The Deal?
Totem: The Return of the G'psgolox Pole, directed by Gil Cardenal

Totem: Return and Renewal, directed by Gil Cardenal

Ecotrust Canada website
The Importance
To begin, it is important to understand what kind of totem G'psgolox is. It is a mortuary totem, meaning it stands as a testament of death.
The story of G'psgolox totem is also a symbol of unity between the Haisla and the Henaksiala.
The Henaksiala were formally of the Kitlope territory, however, due to the disease that the settlers brought they were nearly wipe out.
The Henaksiala journed to join with the Haisla in 1947, forming the Haisla nation.
The Totem originally resided in Mis'kusa, which was the traditional homeland of the Henaksiala.
G'psgolox was a chief of the Henaksiala during the outbreak of disease in 1872.
The Totem
At the top of the totem is the little man, the spirit Tsooda.
In the middle is Asoaget.
The bottom is a mythical grizzly bear who dwells under water.
Told by Louisa Smith,

1929, the G'psgolox totem was given to National Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm Sweden by Olaff Hanson (Swedish council in Prince Rupert) with the aid of Iver Fougner, a Indian agent from Bella Coola.
This totem was misplaced and misused.
-> It was taken because it was assumed to be abandoned.
-> The Swedes, did not allow the traditional discourse to occur. The Haisla belief is for G'psgolox to rot at its natural course and to once again become a part of the earth.
It was put in display in a temperate control room. It was chained so that it can maintain its composure. The Haisla people saw themselves in the totem. They saw their chained totem, just as their people have felt chained by the settlers, and Gerald Amos believed that G'psgolox totem could act as a symbol of hope.
In a effort of bringing back home G'psgolox totem the Haisla nation sent their own diplomats to Sweden to start the repatriation process of their totem. Gerald Amos and Louis Smith in 1991. Louis described the experience as the re-connection of two spirits. This process of negotiation would last till 2006, due to the fact the G'psgolox totem was now national Sweden property.

Repatration Process
time: 6:44-10:16
Full transcript