OF north AMERICA:
THE FIRST PEOPLES
"Totem Walk at Sitka"
By Emily Carr
[see link directly below]
1917 (watercolour on paper)
The Thomas Gardiner Keir Bequest
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
"To the Totem Forests: Emily Carr and Contemporaries Interpret Coastal Villages" is an exquisite site devoted to an exhibit of early 20th century artists who depicted the art and villages of the indigenous peoples of British Columbia (see above painting). You could spend a long time exploring the many pages here.http://indy4.fdl.cc.mn.us/~isk/art/art_can.html
This site from the late Paula Geise looks at First Nations' art and artists, including wonderful material on Norval Morrisseau and Daphne Odjig . Geise brought a depth of knowledge and passion to her work, especially when she wrote of stolen native art. Unfortunately, many links are broken and have not been updated since her death some years ago, but there is still much of great value here. (I have pulled a handful of her links at random and annotated them below....much more remains on her site, however.)http://www.inac.gc.ca/pubs/sculpture/
This is "Canadian Inuit Sculpture," a site with clickable B&W illustrations and brief, but quite useful text. Its categories include Prehistoric Arctic Art, Inuit Sculpture in Recent Times, Imagery & Styles, Regional Styles (this section also offers 2 good maps), and Methods and Materials.http://www.mun.ca/rels/hrollmann/native/index.html
This is a page on Indigenous Peoples of Labrador and Newfoundland. Sections include a variety of essays on the religions of the Maritime Archaic Indians, Beothuk, Micmac, and Inuit. There are many pages here -- I only had time for a quick look but I was impressed.
From the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec comes a series of remarkable sections on art, history, and lore from Canada's First Nations.
The first section is the Grand Hall, which includes a wide array of exhibits on Canada's Pacific coastal peoples:...The Grand Hall houses an exhibition of six Pacific coast Indian house facades connected by a shoreline and boardwalk. The forest backdrop, which stretches the entire length of the Hall, is a scrim with the largest colour photograph in the world....The Museum is home to the world's largest and finest collection of totem poles, many of which are displayed in the Grand Hall....The Grand Hall is animated with storytelling, demonstrations, and performing art....In the Grand Hall section, I especially was drawn to the Salmon People section, where you'll find an "Illustrated Script" for a production given live in the hall -- the script gives you access to a series of nine linked pages on Salmon People stories about salmon, raven (there's raven lore on many other pages here too), wolves, codfish, mousewoman, and many more such themes. It's a rich treasure trove....and makes me wish I could see the performance in person! (Note: the colored photos are clickable; there are also B&W stylized graphics.) Other pages in the Grand Hall's section take you to history, architecture, totem poles, art (photography is outstanding throughout), bentwood boxes, Haida canoes, transformation masks, lore, and beliefs -- on beliefs, for example, if you you go to the totem poles for the Tsimshian people, and follow the link to enter their house, you'll come to a fascinating page called "The World is a Box of Souls." There's also a page on the late Haida artist, Bill Reid (1920-1998), with photos of some of his magnificent art.
The second section is on From Time Immemorial: Tsimshian Prehistory:...Tsimshian prehistory is presented in a setting that includes an archaeological dig (reconstructed from a site near Prince Rupert harbour), an environment of forest and petroglyphs, and a display area rich in artifacts from the Tsimshian peoples of the north coast of British Columbia....Be sure to click on the "Online exhibition" link at the bottom of the page, then on the image that follows. This will bring you to a very interesting new group of pages, some of which are on Tsimshan shamanism, but navigation is a bit quirky so here's a direct link: http://www.cmcc.muse.digital.ca/membrs/fph/tsimsian/shaintre.html
Click on this and on the left you'll get 4 sub-divisions, the best of which is the Curing section (because it goes into fascinating detail -- with great photos -- on shamanic tools); the others tend to be too brief, but they're still of interest.
The third section (formerly the River Gallery) is Threads of the Land: Clothing Traditions from Three Indigenous Cultures -- a gorgeous, rich exploration that:....examines the ways in which the clothing of three Canadian Native peoples (Dene, Copper and Caribou Inuit, and NLaka'pamux) identifies individuals and their cultures. It explains how humans adapted to the land, and gives insight into the need for self-adornment and how personal and group identities can be revealed through dress....The fourth section is First Peoples Hall, a place for various long-running exhibits about non-Pacific Coastal peoples. Of special interest is a lovely series of illustrated pages called "Storytelling: the Art of Knowledge:"...The stories we want to share with you here are from the Inuvialuit, the Algonquin, the Métis and Cree, the Nisga'a, the Abenaki and the Mi'kmaq....They teach us about the origin of sacred objects and ceremonies, and our relationship to the animals, plants, rocks and each other....This is a beautiful site -- I'm amazed at this museum's generosity in making so much available online! (Note: if you have days to spend exploring, here is the museum's main site index: http://www.civilization.ca/index1e.html)
This is a beautifully crafted and retold story, "THE RAVEN STEALS THE LIGHT" from Bill Reid and Robert Bringhurst (The Raven Steals the Light, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1984). The opening alone is a gem, but the rest lives up to its promise:Before there was anything, before the great flood had covered the earth and receded, before the animals walked the earth or the trees covered the land or the birds flew between the trees, even before the fish and the whales and seals swam in the sea, an old man lived in a house on the bank of a river with his only child, a daughter. Whether she was as beautiful as hemlock fronds against the spring sky at sunrise or as ugly as a sea slug doesn't really matter very much to this story, which takes place mainly in the dark.Don't miss this one! -- it's truly wonderful.
Because at that time the whole world was dark. Inky, pitchy, all-consuming dark, blacker than a thousand stormy winter midnights, blacker than anything anywhere has been since....
(Possibly Haida, from Paula Geise's site:
the divider bars at the top of my page are details from this carving)
[More to come -- please be patient]
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Text and Design:
Copyright 2000-2002 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
Page begun 3 April 2000; went on-line late 11 April
12 April 2000 (Nedstated, etc); 17 June 2000 (updated museum permissions);
24 August 2002 (minor format changes).