Keeping the Song Alive

Keeping the Song Alive 

On view - November 2, 2022 – March 19, 2023

Watch the Opening Celebration

Indigenous Guest Curator: Cheryl ‘Kakaso’las Wadhams 

Co-developed by the Jewish Museum & Archives of BC, and the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art.

For Kwakwaka’wakw peoples, songs are an essential part of cultural knowledge and ceremonial life, part of the rights and privileges of Chiefs that strengthen identity and lineage. The Big House is a place of belonging where songs, language, drumming, and dancing come together, and where the next generation is continuing these traditions in a good way. 

In 1947, hereditary Chiefs Billy Assu and Mungo Martin began to collaborate with ethnomusicologist Dr. Ida Halpern to record the ceremonial music of the Pesa (potlatch). Today, the results of their collaboration continue to resonate and inspire contemporary Kwakwaka’wakw artists and community members. Through a rich mix of traditional music and regalia, contemporary art, film, and historical documentation, Keeping the Song Alive celebrates a unique friendship, the spiritual power of music, and the beauty of preserving ceremonial art and culture for future generations. 

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