Swedish museum returns totem after 77 years

Members of the Haisla First Nation in British Columbia traveled to Sweden on Tuesday to bring home a 134-year-old totem pole taken from them in the 1920s.

The totem was erected in 1876 to honor the forest spirit Tsoda for saving the Haisla people from a smallpox epidemic. It was stolen in the 1920s -- apparently by a Swedish diplomat -- and displayed at the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm for 77 years.

The Swedish government decided to repatriate the pole in 1994. It is believed to be the first time cultural property has been voluntarily returned by an institution outside Canada and the United States.

With the original 33-foot totem pole going back home, the Haisla First Nation donated a replica for the museum to keep.

Get the Story:
Native spirits soar as Sweden returns historic B.C. totem pole (CBC 3/14)
Totem returned to Canadian tribe (BBC 3/14)

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