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Object lessons : hereditary rights and ownership in a northwest coast museum

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Title: Object lessons : hereditary rights and ownership in a northwest coast museum
Author: Blair, Graham Alexander
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program Anthropology
Copyright Date: 2000
Subject Keywords University of British Columbia. -- Museum of Anthropology; Gitksan Indians -- Folklore -- Political aspects; Creation -- Mythology -- British Columbia -- Social aspects; Creation -- Mythology -- British Columbia -- Political aspects; Appropriation
Abstract: Using as a case example an ownership dispute over a Gitksan origin story depicted on the carved doors of University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology (MOA), this thesis contributes to an understanding of the ways in which hereditary prerogatives are being exercised in new contexts on the Northwest Coast and the political ramifications this entails for both museums and traditional systems of ownership. Drawing on interviews, archival materials, and published sources, this thesis details the ongoing history of the 'Ksan doors, from their commissioning in the early-1970s, as both an architectural feature of MOA and an example of contemporary Northwest Coast art, to their emergence as the focal point of an ownership dispute twenty years later that was escalated, if not precipitated, by a 1991 interpretive-dance performance of the origin story that they depict that involved Hereditary Chief Kenneth B. Harris. The claims and actions of Chief Harris and a Gitksan woman named Dolly Watts (whom many identify as the source of the dispute) are considered both ethnographically and historically, with a final emphasis on how MOA has in this case become a forum around and through which cultural meanings and identities are being asserted.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/10541
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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