Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Anthropology

First Advisor

Kelly Fayard

Second Advisor

Christina Kreps

Third Advisor

Frédérique Chevillot


Dwight Wallace, Inalienable possessions, Indigenization, John Wallace, Kaigani Haida, Totem poles


In 2019, two Kaigani Haida (Alaskan Haida) totem poles (Xaadas Gyáa’ang) were re-raised in the renovated Northwest Coast gallery of the Denver Art Museum. Lee Wallace and his family, descendants of Haida carver Dwight Wallace and Dwight’s son John Wallace, led a ceremony that publicly acknowledged the Wallace family’s connection to the two poles, reintroduced Haida cultural protocols into their care and viewing, and set the stage for future collaborations between the museum and family. This study explores the history of the poles and the intersecting forces that shaped their journey from Sukkwan, Alaska, to Denver, including shifting ideals of preservation, rights to cultural patrimony, and assertions of Indigenous sovereignty in Southeast Alaska. Through interviews with Lee Wallace, as well as DAM employees, this thesis situates the pole-raising ceremony within the larger and ongoing journey of the poles, as well as within pushes to decolonize or Indigenize museums.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Penske Stranger McCormack


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

175 pgs


Museum studies, Native American studies, Art history