Photo: Nika Collison
|THE BENTWOOD BOX PROJECT
For the last ten years, Andy Wilson has been hired by the
Skidegate Band Council to oversee the making of over 500
Many of these were for the repatriation of ancestral remains,
that came from museums and universities around North America including the University of British Columbia (Vancouver), the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Hull,Quebec), the Royal British Columbia museum (Victoria), the American Museum of Natural History (New York), the University of Oregon (Oregon), and Simon Fraser University (Burnaby). Many of the remains were turned into the Skidegate Band Council office, Council of the Haida nation, Haida Gwaii museum; returned by private individuals and the RCMP.
The boxes were made by apprentices hired by the Skidegate Band Council, under the direction of Mr. Wilson.
The Queen Charlotte City High school also got involved in painting the designs on the bentwood boxes. The students learned what the designs represented and where they came from. They also learned how and why the ancestral remains ended up in museums around the world, and why it was so important to repatriate them. Many of the students were hired for a summer job which they loved to do.
As the project was so big it was opened it up to everyone who wanted to help with the project. And as a result tourists that
came for holidays ended up painting bentwood box designs for their entire vacation. Many people who were studying Haida culture and doing a paper or thesis for their studies ended up at the canoe shed painting bentwood boxes.
Throughout the years local volunteers came from the communities surrounding Skidegate to help with the project.