Tag Archives: photographs

Coast Salish “Woolly Dogs,” ca. 1946

Side view of a 14 year old dog which was shorn each year for its hair. Source: Ian McTaggart-Cowan fonds, UVIC.

Side view of a 14 year old dog which was shorn each year for its hair. Source: Ian McTaggart-Cowan fonds, UVIC.

The Coast Salish “wool dog” is an interesting example of selective breeding of dogs for a useful trait, in this case, their long, fair hair which could be cut or plucked for weaving. Susan Crockford, in her comprehensive account of Wool Dogs (downloadable!) quotes Captain Vancouver:

The dogs belonging to this tribe of Indians were numerous, and much resembled those of Pomerania, though in general somewhat larger. They were all shorn as close to the skin as sheep are in England; and so compact were their fleeces, that large portions could be lifted up by a corner without causing any separation”

While Crockford writes that the wool dog was extinct as a separate breed by 1858 (it’s raison d’etre replaced by Hudson Bay blankets), it is still interesting to see a couple of pictures dating to ca. World War 2 showing two dogs on the Saanich Peninsula with strong echoes of the Spitz-genre wool dog phenotype – indeed, caption above explicitly notes this dog was “shorn each year.”  (See also this poster (PDF) summarizing some wool dog research)

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Newsflash: Facebook is Good for Something

Lolota, the son of Zickchuse, - Snoqualmie - 1890

I’m a bit of a reluctant user of “facebook”, mostly because of their user-hostile and byzantine privacy policies.  However, increasingly people are using its easy interface to create really useful web pages, many of which you don’t need to be a member of facebook or logged in to enjoy.  There are some quite specific archaeology ones relevant to the Northwest Coast which I will review some other time.  Today, I want to focus on a remarkable compendium of historic photos of North American indigenous people.  There are almost 200 separate galleries, many with more than fifty pictures in them (do the math), under the auspices of the group administrator Jonathan Holmes, who takes an active role in the discussions and comments.  This is an enormous investment of time and effort, especially as many of the pictures have notes (hover your mouse over the picture) and in a remarkable number the identity of the subject is named and contextualized.  This is not a mere link dump for pictures – the over 20,000 comments reflect many positive reviews from Tribal and First Nations members (e.g., Tahltan) and members of the general public, (as well as some cranky comments from six year olds and racists). Continue reading

Decaying resource towns of the BC coast.

Inside the school library at Ocean Falls.

Inside the school library at Ocean Falls.

Photographer Christopher Grabowski has a beautiful photo-essay at Geist magazine on the subject of decaying resource towns of the British Columbian coast, with emphasis on Alert Bay and  Ocean Falls.  You can read the essay alone, or as the multi-page photo essay, and also read an interview with Grabowski here.  A fuller set of his Ocean Falls photographs can be seen here. (2018 edit: here)

It is striking how Europeans and other settlers were so active on the coast.  Hundreds of communities have come and gone, and settlers are now concentrated in only a few major towns.  Meanwhile, the First Nations remain on their land – in the long term, perhaps, European presence on the remote coastal lands will come to resemble a blip more than an occupation.

In the meantime, these fantastic photos remind us of the wasteful ways of the culture with perhaps the shortest attention span on earth: Canada.

The inscribed fireplace in the ballroom at Ocean Falls: Archie Martin … Ocean Falls community is a monument to his memory. Indeed.

Archaeology in Action: a flickr.com photo pool

Archaeologists? No -- "Pothunters" destroying a site on the Columbia River, ca. 1966. Source: flickr user gbaku.

Archaeology in Action is a large set of pictures of archaeologists doing archaeology on the photo sharing website flickr.com.  Not too much Northwest Stuff there that I could find with the notable exception of many pictures put up by a former University of Oregon professor under the name of gbaku (you can find his real name easily enough).  His pictures are a wonderful tour of Oregon and Alaskan archaeology of the 1960s and 1970s – these are not sets of pictures of stratigraphy, or backdirt (interesting though those things are) but are predominately of, well, archaeologists in action.  It would be fun to see more NW Coast pictures up here — I know Grant has a large collection of pictures of archaeologists going about their business and I am sure we all have some pictures of people in with the endless pictures of yet another bone.

Erle Stanley Gardner, the author of the Perry Mason mysteries and many other books, and Luther Cressman, pioneering archaeologist and ex-husband of Margaret Mead, at Fort Rock Cave in 1966.

New Westminster, 1903

Aboriginal women at New Westminster, 1903.

There is something about the above picture that is so evocative: Native women washing clothes or getting water while in the background the first construction of the Fraser River Bridge at New Westminster rises.  With a different caption this could be the Ganges River, or the Colorado: always women, always squatting, always the back turned to the viewer and the colonial future in the background.

From the idiosyncratic New Westminster online photo archives – this uses the LoC system so you have to search for, say, “Indians” rather than “First Nations”.

New Westminster, ca. 1865