The name is legendary as the named plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision that defined the grounds for establishing Indigenous rights and title, but the legend was also a man.
Delgamuukw, also known as Earl Muldon, passed away yesterday (Jan. 3) at the age of 85.
Muldon was honoured with the hereditary name in 1990, seven years before Delgamuukw v. British Columbia made its way to Canada’s highest court.
In addition to his status as an icon of Indigenous rights, Delgamuukw was a world-renowned artist who sought to preserve Northwest Coast design and Gitxsan culture.
That work earned him a BC Lifetime Achievement Award for Aboriginal Art in 2009.
In 2010, he was named to the Order of Canada as a Principal Companion. He attended Rideau Hall in Ottawa in person to collect the honour.
“Earl Muldon is a passionate promoter and defender of the Gitxsan culture,” a Governor-General press release stated at the time. “As hereditary chief of the House of Delgamuukw, he is an important advocate for the rights of his people and was a driving force behind a historic legal case that resulted in the recognition of oral history as part of Canada’s court system.”
Wilp (House) Delgamuukw is planning a private ceremony in light of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic concerns.
“The safety of our Simgiigyet (Chiefs), friends and family is of utmost importance and we appreciate your support in this decision,” the Wilp said in a statement.