Douglas & McIntyre
Recording Their Story

Book details:

August 2007
ISBN 978-1-55365-232-8
9 1/2" x 11"
224 pages
Biography & Autobiography BIO000000
Biography & Autobiography / Biography
$55.00 CAD


Douglas & McIntyre

Recording Their Story

James Teit and the Tahltan

Recording Their Story recounts the life and work of groundbreaking ethnologist James Teit and presents the key collections of Tahltan materials he gathered in the early 1900's.

Teit's connection to the Canadian Museum of Civilizatio

The life and pioneering work of late nineteenth-century ethnologist James Teit and his seminal collections of artifacts, photos, song recordings and myths from the Tahltan First Nation of British Columbia

Recording Their Story describes the life of one of Canada's first ethnographers and an important collection that he made for the Canadian Museum of Civilization almost a century ago. James Teit emigrated from the Shetland Islands to British Columbia in 1884, at the age of nineteen. In Canada, he became, among other things, a hunting guide, a linguist who spoke several Indian languages fluently and an activist for Native rights. A 1894 meeting with American anthropologist Franz Boas led to a long collaboration that established Teit as an authority on the Interior Salish peoples of south-central British Columbia.

Teit's connection to the Canadian Museum of Civilization and his ethnographic work among the Tahltan of northern British Columbia began in 1911, when Edward Sapir invited him to join the staff of a newly-formed Anthropology Division of the Geological Survey of Canada. In two field seasons (1912 and 1915), with the participation of many Tahltan, Teit assembled a large collection of artifacts, photographs, song recordings, mythological tales and ethnographic information. Today, this collection is arguably the most important extant assemblage of Tahltan heritage materials.

Teit died prematurely in 1922 at the age of fifty-eight. His two fieldwork seasons with the Tahltan were the last in his career as an ethnographer. In this book, which is part biography and part catalogue of an ethnographic collection, the author explains how the various threads of Teit's life and work came together in his final major ethnographic study.

The story of James Teit and the Tahltan draws extensively on primary sources of information, including correspondence, fieldwork notebooks, diaries and manuscripts. As a result of a recent discovery of an extensive correspondence written by Teit's father, the book also contains a wealth of new information about James Teit's youth in Shetland and early years in Canada.

Recording Their Story is richly illustrated throughout with 71 rare historic photographs, 51 beautiful colour images of ethnographic artifacts, 6 line drawings and 3 maps.

Judy Thompson's association with the Canadian Museum of Civilization began in 1969; since 1990, she has been Curator of Western Subarctic Ethnology. She has a particular interest in the material culture, clothing and artistic traditions of Northern Athapaskan peoples and has published articles and books on these topics, including From the Land: Two Hundred Years of Dene Clothing and "The Pride of the Indian Wardrobe": Northern Athapaskan Footwear. She has also curated or co-curated several exhibitions, including Threads of the Land: Clothing Traditions of Three Indigenous Peoples, The Spirit Sings: Artistic Traditions of Canada's First Peoples and Long Ago Sewing We Will Remember.

About the Author

Judy Thompson

Judy Thompson began her long association with the Canadian Museum of Civilization in 1969. Since 1990 she has been Curator of Western Subarctic Ethnology. ...

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