The Nisga’a Museum and its director have been honoured with an award for outstanding cultural centre and attraction from the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC.
The award, given to museum director Darrin Martens, recognizes a cultural/interpretive centre or attraction that is committed to ensuring cultural authenticity in sharing knowledge, histories, exhibits and traditions, and was handed out at the International Aboriginal Tourism Conference in Whistler April 16.
“On behalf of the Nisga’a Museum Advisory Committee and our staff team, I am both honoured and humbled by this recognition,” said Martens in a release. “The Nisga’a Museum strives to not only promote inclusion and cultural authenticity within the institution’s permanent and temporary exhibitions, public, school and special event programs, we advocate for a multiplicity of voices, both inter-generationally and culturally throughout the museum. Through dialogue, mutual respect for ideas, the honouring of history and tradition, we reflect the changing and diverse communities that we serve.”
The Nisga’a Museum and its collections are directly related to the historic Nisga’a Final Agreement – the museum’s permanent collection is 300+ artifacts and art objects that left the Nass Valley in the latter part of the 19th Century and early part of the 20th Century.
Through the treaty process, a select number of objects were identified and chosen from the collections of the Royal British Columbia Museum and Canadian Museum of Civilization to be repatriated to Nisga’a territory.
This unique collection of carved masks, bentwood boxes, headdresses, soul catchers, and other works of art became known as Anhooya’ahl Ga’angigatgum’ – the Ancestors’ Collection, which is a focal point within the museum.
The museum is recognized, within the Nisga’a language, as Hli Goothl Wilp-Adokshl Nisga’a, which means “The Heart of Nisga’a House Crests,” a name that acknowledges and celebrates the importance of the four tribes that make up the Nisga’a nation. Each of the four tribes, or Pdeek, has a crest, or Ayukws, an animal that symbolically represents each tribe.
They are Ganada (raven), Gisk’aast (killer whale), Laxgiik (eagle) and Laxgibuu (wolf). The museum displays and incorporates all the Nisga’a crests and the people they represent within its permanent exhibition, the Ancestors’ Collection.
Through awards such as this the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC recognizes the outstanding achievements of Aboriginal businesses and industry partners.
“We take great pride in our museum, and the recognition expressed by this award. The opening of the museum marked the return of our ancestors to our homeland. In honour of their memory, we graciously accept this award,” said Mitchell Stevens, president of the Nisga’a Nation.