Tlet’inqox (Anaham) chief and Tsilhqot’in National Government chair Joe Alphonse told the Tribune Wednesday morning while he’s happy the petroglyph from the Vancouver Museum is being repatriated and placed at Churn Creek Protected area, his nation is concerned there’s been an error in the fact that the Tsilhqot’in people were not notified by the Museum of Vancouver about the repatriation project.
“I think it’s very important that those things be returned to their original locations,” Alphonse says.
“They should never have been removed. Whenever we can get them back it’s great and very meaningful. We’re not making an issue of it because we want the rock returned; however, we will deal with the fall out after the fact,” Alphonse says.
The TNG was to have a small delegation at Churn Creek Wednesday, but was planning to do their own Tsilhqot’in celebration at the location in the near future.
At that time the Tsilhqot’in will tell stories about carved rocks and why they are placed where they are.
“The carvings on that are Tsilhqot’in carvings and that was what our spiritual people would do. It was part of our ritual to do rock carvings for individuals that were wanting to become spiritual healers. They placed these rocks along the river and you’ll find some in Farwell Canyon, Hanceville area and Siwash area,” Alphonse says.
He refers to burial grounds on the south side of Sheep Creek Bridge where bones were discovered about a decade ago.
“We allowed both nations to come in and do their own celebration on the same given day. Chief Larry Camille at the time from Dog Creek called the Tsilhqot’in and said they were going to rebury the bones and it was right in that Churn Creek area where they’re going to be bringing this rock.”
Alphonse says the fact they haven’t been invited this time is disrespectful.
“We’re not overly happy and impressed, but we’ll deal with it. I think the museum that released the rock should be fully aware that there’s an obligation to talk to and make an effort to consult with all First Nations in the area. They haven’t done that. The motives of the Shuswap are irrelevant. I think the museum has failed its obligation and as a result has put us in a situation where we have to protect our interests and pursue that.”
Staff from the Vancouver Museum were unavailable for comment because they were attending the repatriation ceremony.