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June 2010 Archives

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Tales from the Vault:

Franz Boas and the Yuquot Whalers' Shrine

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The removal of important cultural artifacts is big part of the history of First Nations and non-native relations on the west coast.

In the late 1800s collectors removed thousands of poles, masks and other works of art for foreign museums in Europe and the United States.

Two of the most important figures in that trade were German geographer Franz Boas and George Hunt. Hunt was himself a member of the Kwakiutl community on Vancouver Island.

Among the objects they acquired for the American Museum of Natural History in New York was a mysterious building and its contents, known as the Yuquot Whalers Shrine.

Their quest for the shrine is the subject of this "Tales From the Vault" by Local History Librarian Stephen Ruttan.

You can find Stephen's article about this and many other tales on the GVPL website.

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George Hunt (on left) in front of inside house pole. From British Columbia Archives, call # AA-00051