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BC Aboriginal Artifacts on the Auction Block

The Globe and Mail has a fascinating story of a privately owned collection of Tsimshian artifacts and art objects scheduled for auction on Thursday in New York. Dubbed the Dundas Collection of Northwest Coast American Indian Art, the story of how it came to auction — and of the efforts of museums world-wide to buy the collection — is incredible. The story includes one of BC’s most famous missionaries, William Duncan, diaries of Reverend Dundas, wealthy bidders, a bitter and dying owner, pre-auction values of several million dollars for the collection, and one mask that could go for as high as one million dollars on its own.

There is the hope of aboriginal leaders from northern BC that Canadian museums and the government will step up and buy the collection. And, running close to the surface of the whole affair are questions of Canadian heritage and the extent to which the public and the government care about such things — or whether private donations on behalf of the Canadian public should be used to keep the objects in Canada.

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  1. John wrote:

    I honestly always thought that aboriginies only came from Australia.

    Shows how little I know.!!

    Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 3:14 am | Permalink
  2. The term ‘aborigine’ usually refers to indigenous people from Australia. The term ‘aboriginal’ is used more widely to refer to indigenous people.

    Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

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  1. […] In a (delayed) followup to my post about Tsimshian artifacts on the auction block, it appears that the Dundas Collection has been purchased by David Thomson, son of former Globe and Mail chairman, the late Kenneth Thomson. The intention seems to be to display the objects at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). The Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and the Museum of Northern British Columbia in Prince Rupert also acquired some items. The Royal BC Museum was also involved in financing the repatriation. […]