There is an exciting new book in the pipeline on early photography and First Nations of the historic period. The author, Dan Savard, is senior collections manager of the Royal BC Museum’s anthropology audio and visual collection. The promotional blurb reads:
On a winter’s day in 1889, Tsimshian Chief Arthur Wellington Clah visited Hannah and Richard Maynard’s photography studio in Victoria to have his portrait taken. “Rebekah ask if I going likeness house,” Chief Clah wrote in his diary, “So I go, to give myself likeness. Rebekah stand longside me.” In Images from the Likeness House, Dan Savard explores the relationship between First Peoples in British Columbia, Alaska and Washington and the photographers who made images of them from the late 1850s to the 1920s.
I won’t be here (have some bottom sampling to attend to in Haida Gwaii), but Dan is giving a free public lecture and will sign copies of his book next week at the RBCM.
The details are:
“Wednesday, May 26, 2010
From the Likeness House: Photography and First Peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and the interior of British Columbia, 1860-1920
Noon to 1:00pm
Newcombe Conference Hall, Royal BC Museum
Free admission. Bring your bagged lunch and enjoy this monthly exploration of a variety of engaging topics related to RBCM research, travel, collections, and exhibitions. There will be plenty of room for lively discussion, active learning and a sharing of local expertise.”
By the way, the RBCM has a lively facebook page if you are interested in that sort of thing.
You can view a few promotional thumbnails of Dan’s book on this RBCM page which hint at the contents, but bizarrely they password protect these*, including the picture of the cover of the book which presumably they are hoping to sell!! This doesn’t exactly encourage outlets such as this one to go overboard promoting the book. There is a short review of the book at Village 900 radio’s blog as well.
I have to admit I am not crazy about the promotional blurb though — the highlighting on the imperfect English of Chief Clah is unnecessarily exoticizing and a little insulting. I bet Chief Clah spoke three or four highly diverse aboriginal languages in addition to English, and I wonder just what the point is of using that snippet. I mean, I’ll buy the book anyway!
Anyhow, this looks to be an excellent book and a welcome addition to a growing literature on early photography on the Northwest Coast. Although I have never heard Dan give a public lecture, he has guided my students through his domain more than once and is highly knowledgeable, and also a very effective speaker in that context so I think those able to make it will be in for a treat. It looks like you can buy a copy of the book there, or order it from Amazon.ca.
* including a photo labelled “cramped storage” showing, well, cramped storage at the RBCM – a main reason they are planning a huge expansion. Why on earth they wouldn’t want that picture in wide circulation, I don’t know, it is a good advertisement for their cause. Oh well.