Native artifacts on the move

Published September 4, 2007

The Tsimshian wooden mask, part of the Dundas Collection of First Nations artifacts, has rolling eyes and an articulated beak.

The Dundas Collection, featuring First Nations objects from the 18th and 19th centuries, is on display at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario until Oct. 7.

Much of the collection was given up as part of the conversion by native people to Christianity by Anglican missionary William Duncan. It had been part of a long-standing dispute between natives and the family of Rev. Robert James Dundas, who had obtained the artifacts from Mr. Duncan in 1863.

The collection had been passed down through Robert Dundas’s family until its latest owner Simon Carey – Dundas’s great-grandson – decided last spring to put most of it on the block. B.C. native groups had been calling for the collection’s repatriation to the Tsimshian.

The collection will next be on display at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Que. (Nov. 1 to Jan. 7, 2008) and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Feb. 3 – June 7, 2008).


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