Photograph by Harlan I. Smith, June 28, 1909
From a glass plate
Image 45991, American Museum of Natural History Library

In 1909, Harlan I. Smith returned to the coast to resume the archaeological reconnaissance that he had begun during the Jesup Expedition. He and an accompanying painter, Will Taylor, also sought visual inspiration for murals, still on display in the AMNH Northwest Coast Hall. For both reasons, Smith took a number of photographs of Native men and women undertaking practices that he termed “primitive industries,” including this one of a Nuuchah-nulth woman weaving a basketry hat near Victoria (in Coast Salish territory). Smith then collected the unfinished hat—not as a souvenir but as an ethnological specimen of the well-developed weaving industry, hoping to dispel misconceptions of Native Americans as ignorant and lazy. His notes on this image call attention to the intercultural exchanges characteristic of the preceding decades, such as the presence of imported commodities (the Japanese mat on which the weaver sits) and the seasonal migration of Natives to take advantage of wage labor. This approach differs from that of the earlier Jesup Expedition, which deemed only “nonacculturated” Native objects and practices as worthy of anthropological study and collection.

Click here for a discussion about this object (Ron Hamilton)

Tags for Interactive Tag Cloud: diffusion, models, souvenir