Would You Make This Bet? – Super Bowl Wager of Native Mask

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown January 29th, 2014 Last Updated on: January 29th, 2014

A Super Bowl wager between two art museums in Seattle and Denver may not happen, after it upset the B.C. First Nation with a connection to the deal.

When the Seattle Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos this Sunday, the Seattle Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum were planning to bet a major work of art on the outcome of the game.  The winner would get to display the other city's piece for several months.

But it's what the Seattle Art Museum chose to wager that attracted attention north of the border: a forehead mask from the Nuxalk First Nation, which is located on B.C.'s Central Coast near Bella Coola.

Nuxalk First Nation Chief Wally Webber was not happy about how he found out about the exchange. Webber says no one had the courtesy to pick up a phone and tell him.

“They informed the Broncos about it and they’ve never contacted us. If they’re not going to respect what they have of ours, send it back to us where it will be looked after right,” said Webber.  “They call it a man-eating raven. It is not that. It's a high ranking mask for the chiefs' sacred dances, and to see it being used this way in a bet is not very kosher with us.”

Seattle Art Museum director Kim Rorschach said she understood the Nuxalk Nation’s concerns, but pointed out the exchange was only temporary and not a transfer of ownership. She said it is common to lend pieces without consultation and promised to follow up with the Nuxalk's concerns.  Rorschach said the work of art is a good representation of the West Coast First Nations style that inspired the team's logo.

“We know that the Seahawks logo is based loosely on Northwest Coast Native American design,” Rorschach told Seattle broadcaster KPLU.  “It just seemed natural to choose one of our great works that is of a bird and reminiscent of that logo,” said Rorschach.

Read more on the story at CBC News.

Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » Would You Make This Bet? – Super Bowl Wager of Native Mask

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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