Chapter 8 - Abstract and author bios

8. Betting on the Raven: Ethical Relationality and Nuxalk Cultural Property

Jennifer Kramer

This chapter traces the reactions to a wager between the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and the Denver Art Museum (DAM) on the outcome of Super Bowl 2014 between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. Intended to be a friendly cultural exchange materializing municipal pride in their respective city’s football prowess, the selection of a Nuxalk raven forehead mask became a media maelstrom and a moment of conflicting legal regimes. The swift corrective response of the SAM staff turned “looking relations” into “ethical relationality” between the Museum and the Nuxalk Nation. Resulting recognition of the mask as cultural property to be stewarded by Nuxalk hereditary chiefs created mutual respect between the Museum and the First Nation.

Jennifer Kramer holds a joint position at the University of British Columbia as Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Curator, Pacific Northwest at the Museum of Anthropology. She works with First Nations on the Central Northwest Coast of British Columbia. Her research focuses upon art market economies, identity production, representation, repatriation, Aboriginal cultural tourism, Indigenous modernity, and collaborative and critical museology. Kramer is co-editor with Charlotte Townsend-Gault and Ki-ke-in of the multiple award-winning anthology Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas (UBC Press 2013). She curated the exhibition ‘Kesu’: The Art and Life of Doug Cranmer’ (with a complementing book of the same title with Douglas & McIntyre Press 2012) and authored Switchbacks: Art, Ownership, and Nuxalk National Identity (UBC Press 2006).