top of page

RESEARCH PROJECTS

 Photo Credit: Neil Hanna

House of Ni’isjoohl Crest by
Sim’oogit Ts’awit, Calvin McNeil Sr.

I

    am internally grateful to the previous and current generations of respected hereditary leaders in my Nation, Indigenous scholars, and community mentors for their            trailblazing efforts that have allowed me to walk on this pathway as a scholar. My current research projects all engage critical Indigenous methodologies through the vital praxis that is required by Indigenous scholars to wholistically translate our scholarship with Indigenous communities into meaningful knowledge mobilization projects with strong leadership that upholds Indigenous knowledge systems, protocols and values in research. These knowledge mobilization projects are vital to the “R’s” (respect, responsibility, reverence, reciprocity and relationality) of Indigenous led research which I then translate into suitable peer reviewed publications. 

I

     am internally grateful to the previous and current generations of respected hereditary leaders in 

     my Nation, Indigenous scholars, and community mentors for their trailblazing efforts that have allowed me to walk on this pathway as a scholar. My current research projects all engage critical Indigenous methodologies through the vital praxis that is required by Indigenous scholars to wholistically translate our scholarship with Indigenous communities into meaningful knowledge mobilization projects with strong leadership that upholds Indigenous knowledge systems, protocols and values in research. These knowledge mobilization projects are vital to the “R’s” (respect, responsibility, reverence, reciprocity and relationality) of Indigenous led research which I then translate into suitable peer reviewed publications. 

I

     am internally grateful to the previous and

     current generations of respected hereditary leaders in my Nation, Indigenous scholars, and community mentors fortheir trailblazing efforts that have allowed me to walk on this pathway as a scholar. My current research projects all engage critical Indigenous methodologies through the vital praxis that is required by Indigenous scholars to wholistically translate our scholarship with Indigenous communities into meaningful knowledge mobilization projects with strong leadership that upholds Indigenous knowledge systems, protocols and values in research. These knowledge mobilization projects are vital to the “R’s” (respect, responsibility, reverence, reciprocity and relationality) of Indigenous led research which I then translate into suitable peer reviewed publications. 

RAISING NISGA'A

                                 

LANGUAGE, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY, AND LAND-BASED EDUCATIONS WITH TRADITIONAL CARVING KNOWLEDGE

The project is the first known study examining the philosophy and pedagogical practices of the Nisga’a carving tradition and rematriation as a form of knowledge production and transmission through Nisga’a led research methodologies that: (1) enabled the carving and raising of a new totem pole for the House of Laay on February 24, 2023; (2) set a historic international precedent for the first return of a totem pole from the United Kingdom to an Indigenous Nation on September 29, 2023; (3) reinforced the matrilineal nature of Nisg̱a’a society by using the term “rematriation” instead of repatriation and challenging the colonialism and patriarchy that’s inherent in these terms and practices with public, scholarly and governmental audiences. In doing so, this research project has enhanced understandings of complex Indigenous self-governance issues in research, while decolonizing museum practices and strengthening Nisga’a culture.

 

 In the 1860’s our ancestral grandmother Joanna Moody had the Ni’isjoohl memorial pole commissioned to honour, Ts’awit, a fallen ancestor who passed into the spirit world defending our family and Nation’s sovereignty. In 1929, the Ni’isjoohl memorial pole was stolen from our Nation’s ancient village of Ank’idaa by colonial ethnographer Marius Barbeau and sold to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh (now the National Museums of Scotland) where it remained for over 94 years. In August 2022, as part of my hereditary and research responsibilities, I led a delegation with Chief N’isjoohl (Earl Stephens) to Scotland where we had meetings with the National Museums of Scotland and the Government of Scotland. On November 30, 2022, we learned that our rematriation claim would re-right history and create an international precedent with a commitment made by the National Museums of Scotland (NMS) to return our 164 year old ancestor (Ni’isjoohl pole) to our family and Nation.  

 

In August, 2023 our delegation returned to the National Museums of Scotland with peace in our hearts by undertaking a spiritual ceremony to prepare our dear ancestor for its long journey home. We are grateful to have extended our delegation for this visit which included the hereditary leadership of Sim’oogit Duuk (Chief William Moore), Sim’oogit Laay (Chief Bruce Haldane), and Laax-Yee (Bobby Clark). 

 

The project has led to substantial technological innovation in physical rematriation practices to deinstall, transport and raise the 164-year old Ni’isjoohl totem pole via air cargo safely. We are grateful to the coordination and incredible support received from Canada and British Columbia in order to do the right thing by enacting reconciliation to bring our ancestor home via a 10 day journey with two Canadian Armed Forces planes on September 29, 2023.

My spirit is at peace knowing that justice for our ancestors has prevailed! Please see the pictures below that detail our incredible journey that has been supported many people within and outside our Nation. The photo panels below detail the various phases of of journey to bring our ancestor home, including our historic arrival ceremony and international feast on September 29, 2023. We are grateful for the common bowl efforts of many people within and outside our Nation that have courageously walked with us to support a historic precedent for the rematriation of the Ni’isjoohl pole in the United Kingdom for our family, Nation and the international community. 

NI'ISJOOHL
REMATRIATION

In August 2022, the right people came forward to help us form a delegation to travel to Scotland which included: Sim’oogit Ni’isjoohl (Chief Earl Stephens), Donald Leeson, Pamela Brown, Andrew Robinson, Theresa Schober, Shawna McKay and myself. We walked into the National Museums of Scotland during our first trip with much uncertainty but even more determination.  I truly believe we also went with one of the greatest strengths that we have as Nisga’a Peoples, we went with our hearts and minds working together as one in unity.