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Provincial move puts more artifacts in the hands of the Tahltan people

B.C. grants Tahltan Central Government Archives qualified repository status
Artifacts belonging to the Tahlton people. (Photo courtesy Tahltan Central Government)

Artifacts crucial to the culture and heritage of the Tahltan people can now remain in Tahltan care thanks to a recent decision by the B.C. government.

The B.C. Archaeology Branch has granted the Tahltan Central Government official status as a qualified repository, meaning the TCG archives can now store Tahltan artifacts and historical material recovered from their territory.

“Tahltan cultural heritage belongs to all Tahltan people. Our culture connects us with our ancestors and with each other. It is who we are as Tahltans,” director Sandra Marion said.

“Now we can care for the preservation of our cultural history in our archives. Our belongings and history should stay at home in our territory.”

The move was made at the request of the TCG. It not only allows for Tahltan cultural artifacts to remain in Tahltan territory, it means other items that reflect Tahltan culture — like historical images, audio and documentation — can now be held in trust on behalf of all Tahltans.

According to a news release, artifacts previously discovered within their territory would be removed from their original location and sent to repositories outside of the nation. Little to no resources or records would be provided back to TCG.

This resulted in difficulties determining the original location of many Tahltan belongings, and complicated the repatriation process. Both processes were difficult and time-consuming.

“We are excited to provide Tahltans more direct access to our culture and heritage,” Marion said.

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