ROM returns Chief Poundmaker’s pipe and saddle bag back to family



After more than 138 years in non-Aboriginal possession, two of his most important items from Chief His Poundmaker return home and are eventually housed in his Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

Wednesday’s ROM welcomed the Poundmaker’s offspring and repatriated the Poundmaker’s pipe and saddle to the Poundmaker Clean Nation.

Poundmaker, also known as Pitkahanapiwin, was chief of his Cree tribe in the plains of what is now central Saskatchewan and the Great Plains of southern Alberta, and was also known as the leader of the Sixth Treaty negotiations. rice field.

Poundmaker was indicted for treason in 1885 for leading warriors against Canadian forces in the Northwest Resistance, and in Stony He Mountain Prison in Manitoba he was sentenced to three years.

His great-great-granddaughter, Pauline Poundmaker, also known as the Brown Bear Lady who led the repatriation, said her ancestors were not resistance agitators.

He was released after only a year in ill health and died shortly after his release on his adoptive father’s reservation, Siksika Nation, Alberta.

Much of the Poundmaker’s possessions were stolen, given away, sold, and eventually ended up in various museums after his arrest in 1885.

In July 2017, the Canadian government loaned some of his belongings to the Poundmaker’s Cree, near his knife cut in Sask, to his Nation Museum. The Indigenous Peoples Congress and the Saskatchewan Union of Indigenous Sovereign Nations have passed resolutions in support of the campaign to prove his innocence.


In 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exonerated him after calling for justice.

Pauline Poundmaker’s daughter, Nikita Ashley Poundmaker, said she feels good after her repatriation ceremony. “I feel seen. I feel heard. I feel respected,” said Ashley Poundmaker. She also explained that she feels ROM’s curators are starting to realize that people can “mind about their items.”

Pauline Poundmaker said the purpose of having these artifacts at Battleford was to “ensure that they were under control”.

“Chief his poundmaker, Pitkahanapiwin, was one of the greatest leaders of Nēhiyaw (Planescree) during the 19th round of negotiations for the 6th Treaty.”

She described her grandfather as a humble and kind person.

Valerie Huaco, Associate Director of Collections and Research and Chief Her Innovation Her Officer, said: Work within their communities and (and) decide what the future should be for these ancestors.

Huaco says she’s grateful, and it makes sense to work together to appreciate the “things” and give back to the communities that benefit from them.

The whistle was acquired by her ROM in 1936 and has been passed to various non-Aboriginal owners over the years. According to Dr. G. H. Needler, a poundmaker, he presented a pipe to Dr. G. H. Needler in 1885. Robert Reddick.

Jaime Lavallee, SJD, is an assistant professor in Law at the University of Saskatchewan from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation is an expert in Indigenous artifact and ancestor repatriation. Also an expert in Law, she worked with Indigenous nations throughout the United States with their own efforts to correct historical wrongdoings.

Lavallee said she seen “a lot of cultural revitalization” happen when items are returned to Indigenous nations, “because it`s within our control.”

“If you read what`s in the museum, the words that they use to describe things aren`t necessarily our words,” Lavallee said, and explained the language and approach museums use is not typically how Indigenous Peoples would interact with and describe sacred items.

“Sometimes things have had a had a life and a being, and they`re not just art,” Lavallee said. When they come back into Indigenous nations, Lavallee remarks that it`s a significant step forward in “having control of our culture.”

“For so long, our culture has been seen as an obstacle, a barrier, a curiosity, something to be displayed and used,” Lavallee explained. Most museum legislation is “all talk about access, like acquiring things for the public good, though not necessarily being able to actually be accessing them to actually repatriate them.”

Lavallee said museums and those in power should have begun returning these items in 1951, explaining that “when they stopped banning our ceremonies, they didn`t go back out and give us back our items.” Lavallee said.

Pauline Poundmaker says she wants this to be a good memory for all Indigenous Peoples, and she encourages families to begin their own processes of repatriation.


“If we are, as a society, serious and committed to reconciliation, then one of the ways we can achieve that is through having nations become whole again.”




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