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The Totems of Gitwangak

Erected between 1840 and 1842, the ten totem poles of Gitwangak tell and share the complex... read more

Reviewed February 18, 2020
PookyCake
,
Victoria, Canada
Very Interesting

If you are in the area be sure to visit carved cedar poles and the old Anglican Church. Suggest... read more

Reviewed July 6, 2018
Us2_Gemma_Nick
,
Washington, DC
via mobile
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Reviewed February 18, 2020

Erected between 1840 and 1842, the ten totem poles of Gitwangak tell and share the complex histories and stories of the Gitxan Nation. The poles may have been weathered by time, but they can still teach us much if we have but the eyes to see and the ears to listen. What was daily life like? What were the politics of individual clans? What moments were celebrated? Lamented? If the poles are understood properly, they clearly articulate the life of a people. Granted, there are no interpretive plaques at hand, so the interpretation and understanding will depend largely upon chance encounters with residents or one’s own knowledge of the area. Skimming through George MacDonald’s “The Totem Poles and Monuments of Gitwangak Village” (1984) might not be a bad idea if one knows that they’ll be stopping here in advance.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that a mere half a block away from the totems sits St. Paul’s Anglican Church (see my earlier review on this site). Erected in 1882 – 40 years AFTER the ten totems – the church offers us an interesting look at a contrast of cultures. On the one hand, you have tradition and the potlatch as represented by the totems. On the other hand, you have the sharp window through which Christian influence is gained and advanced. Taken together, the two historic sites represent a malleable moment in time whereby we can see and experience a shift from the ancients to the modern. It’s a struggle just as relevant today as it was back then. La Lotta Continua!

Date of experience: April 2019
1  Thank PookyCake
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed July 6, 2018 via mobile

If you are in the area be sure to visit carved cedar poles and the old Anglican Church.

Suggest you stop at the cafe at the intersection to get directions to the church/poles and onto Gitwangak Battle Hill Historic Site

Date of experience: July 2018
1  Thank Us2_Gemma_Nick
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.