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Indigenous Studies: Crossing the Divide:  Anthropology and Indigenous Rights in BC,’ 1880s-1920

Note:  This time for this series is from 1:00-2:30pm  despite what the Registration Page says (This website does not allow the change of the start time of a class?).

This four-part series will survey the cultural and political landscape of late 19
th and early 20th century ‘British Columbia’ through the writings, letters, audio-recordings, publications, maps and photographs of James Teit who arrived in BC from Shetland in 1884 and saw the gross inequities endured by his Nlaka’pamux neighbours and friends. He decided to challenge them. His contributions to the chiefs’ political campaigns, his copious field notes on songs, stories, spiritual practices, hunting practices, land-tenure systems and leadership structures, and his efforts to create an employment niche for Indigenous people will be discussed. 


#1:  Ethnographic Eyes on ‘British Columbia’, 1870s -1910s


During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Indigenous peoples across North America endured extensive ethnographic reporting by government agents, missionaries, travel writers, amateur anthropologists and others. This talk will highlight examples of this work to show its role in supporting the settler colonial agenda. 


#2:    Missing in History: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Indigenous Rights Activist, James Teit (1864-1922)


Every once in a while, an important figure makes an appearance, makes a difference, and then disappears. James Teit (1864-1922) was such a figure. This talk will draw from Wendy Wickwire’s 2019 book, At the Bridge: James Teit and an Anthropology of Belonging) to show how Teit’s journeys fostered cultural bridges that were rare even by today’s standards.


#3:  Museum-building and its Impacts on Indigenous Communities, 1895-1920.  (This talk will be shared with Angie Bain, co-author of a forthcoming book on James Teit).
   (This talk will be shared with Angie Bain)


Nlaka’pamux communities in south central British Columbia experienced a surge of interest in their culture between 1895 and 1920.  Much of it was in response to the establishment of museums in major cities across North America and Europe.  This talk will interrogate the Indigenous peoples’ responses to the curators’ appeals for their cultural creations.


#4:  James Teit and a Politics of Resistance, 1908-1922 

   (This talk will be shared with Angie Bain)


James Teit pioneered a line of political anthropology that was leagues ahead of its time. Instead of treating Indigenous peoples as ‘dying’ peoples Teit pursued and celebrated a living indigeneity in all its contexts.  From 1909 until his death in 1922, Teit served as a core member of his Indigenous colleagues’ campaign to fight the federal and provincial governments’ autocratic stand on their land-title question and turned the village of Spences Bridge into a thriving  “capital of resistance.” Teit’s early death in 1922 was a huge loss.  

Wendy Wickwire is an emeritus professor in the Department of History at the University of Victoria. In addition to teaching courses in oral history and Indigenous history, she authored several award-winning books, most recently, At The Bridge: James Teit and an Anthropology of Belonging.


Angie Bain is Nlaka’pamux (Ing-thla-cap-muh) from the Lower Nicola Indian Band of Merritt, BC. She works for the Union of Indian Chiefs as an historical researcher and has worked in a similar capacity for many First Nations in BC and Alberta. Angie works with First Nations communities as an advisor, trainer and researcher on Traditional Land Use and Occupancy projects and many other projects. She is a Director with Heritage BC, a member of the Library and Archives Canada’s BCIndigenous Research Forum and a member of several advisory councils.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022, 10:30 AM until 11:30 AM
Halpern Room (and Zoom)

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