Historic mass arrests at a potlatch took place on Christmas Day, 1921 | Vancouver Sun: Somehow, Indian Agent William Halliday heard about what was going on. Halliday, joined by B.C. Provincial Police officers including Sgt. B.E. Angerman, raided the potlatch and arrested 45 people. Their crime? Giving speeches, dancing, and carrying and receiving gifts.
Of those arrested, 22 were given suspended sentences, and three were remanded on appeal. Twenty men and women were sent to Oakalla Prison in the Lower Mainland — the sentences were two months for first offenders and three months for second offenders.
Not only were indigenous people jailed for practicing an integral part of their culture, more than 600 masks, rattles and family heirlooms were confiscated. The treatment of the ceremonial objects was deeply offensive to Cranmer and other Kwakwaka’wakw. Many were considered sacred and were supposed to be stored away out of sight when not in use.
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