This is Our Life

This Is Our Life: Haida people, collections and international museums edited by Cara Krmpotich and Laura Peers

In September 2009, twenty-one members of the Haida Nation came to Oxford and London to work with several hundred heritage treasures at the Pitt Rivers Museum and the British Museum. The encounter set a new course for the relationships between the custodians of these cultural artifacts and the indigenous people for whom the objects are a direct link to their past. Emotional and illuminating, tense and challenging, it was a transformative visit that none would soon forget. 

Featuring contributions from Haida people -- weavers, carvers, language speakers, youth, and Elders -- and museum staff -- curators, conservators, and collections management staff -- who participated in the project, and a rich selection of illustrations, This Is Our Life details the remarkable story of the Haida Project, from the planning to the visit itself and through the years that followed. A fascinating look at the meaning behind objects, the value of repatriation, and the impact of historical trajectories like colonialism, this is also a tender story of the understanding that grew between the Haida visitors and museum staff, as conflicting ideas about subjects as difficult as the repatriation of human remains and the white-gloved institutional approach to handling historical objects became a two-way dialogue. 

Beautifully written and illustrated, This Is Our Life offers a compelling and personal view of the transformative potential of a conversation hundreds of years in the making.

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