The Haida in Canada have secured the return of ancestral remains from the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, which will now be reburied. The handover of the human remains follows extensive negotiations that began in 1996.
QCI Observer 
Reburial scheduled for Thursday
August 4, 2010 12:24 PM
A Haida ancestor whose remains have been in England for more than 100 years is on his way home.
The remains were collected by Reverend Charles Harrison from the Masset area and have been held in the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University for many years. Rev. Harrison first came to the islands in 1882.
Lucille Bell, a member of the Old Massett repatriation committee, said they have been negotiating with the Pitt Rivers Museum for the return of these remains since 1996.
“It’s almost unbelievable that its happened, it’s taken so long,” she said.
She said the repatriation trip to the United Kingdom in the fall of 2009 when 21 Haidas went to visit and document collections in Oxford and London set the wheels in motion for this return. Two Canadians are also working at the Pitt Rivers Museum and Ms Bell credits them for helping keep the process moving. Recently, three delegates, Vern Williams, Melinda Pick and Lonnie Young, were sent back to Oxford to facilitate the ancestor’s return and now eight curators and conservators from the Pitt Rivers Museum and the British Museum are returning with the delegation this week.
Ms Bell says having the UK museum people come here will add a sense of closure to the event scheduled for Aug. 5.
The remains will be reburied at St. Johns Church in Old Massett at 2 pm and later that evening a potluck dinner will be held at Tluu Xaada Naay Longhouse in Old Massett. In addition to the supper, a loonie auction will be held to help recover the cost of the trip and the European curators and conservators will give a slideshow of the Haida collections held at Pitt Rivers and at the British Museum.
In addition to the reburial event, a Weaving Conservation workshop will be held on Aug. 7 from 10 am to 12 noon at the Family Centre in Old Massett. Weavers are encouraged to bring their work to show and discuss. The museum people will offer tips on labelling, care and repair of these items.