Copying People: Photographing British Columbia First Nations 1860 - 1940
Copying People: Photographing British Columbia First Nations 1860 - 1940 explores the wealth of archival photography taken by Non-Natives in British Columbia. The author looks at the historical context of the photograph and the difficulty contemporary viewers have in discerning the truthfulness of the image. Francis explains the historical development of the photograph and briefly identifies key photographs working in Canada from 1860 to 1940. Many of the photographs are houses in archival institutions and were collected for a variety of reasons. The author provides his selection criteria for choosing each image so that all tribal groups in British Columbia are represented. The book is divided into three major sections that cover the earliest images, and the other two sections show images of coastal people and interior communities. Photographs were taken by portrait photographers, amateurs working for government, missionaries, and military personnel. Some actually posed their clients in ways that stresses their Indianness or their assimilation. In the work of Edward Curtis the props and poses accentuate the sitter's precontact culture. Although Curtis found First Nations people living contemporary lifestyles he nevertheless imposed his stereotyped perspective of what an Indian should look like. The author makes this point very clear. Each of the 150 photos is identified with details about photographer, date, tribal groups and name of sitter. For some images this information is missing and the viewer is left to wonder who the person was. Interesting images include photographs of brass bands, family portraits, and pictures of groups involved in sports and work activities. Fishing images are present as well as groups of First Nations working in activities such as hop picking and berry picking. The author uses modern tribal names preferred by British Columbia First Nations throughout the text and captions. The first section covers images taken by photographers from 1860 to 1900. These images include tribal groups such as Coast Salish, Secwepemc, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw, and Tsimshian. Tribal groups represented in the Coastal section include: Gitksan, Nisga'a, Haida, Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, Coast Salish, and Squamish. Interior First Nations include: Tahltan, Carrier, Sekani, Secwepemc, Nlaka'pamux, Interior Salish, Okanagan, Sto:lo, and Ktunaxa-Kinbasket. Photographs include family and individual portraits of First Nations in traditional and contemporary clothing, group photographs of sports teams, workers, church groups, residential school students, and soldiers. This book contains a bibliography and tribal map. The essays introducing each section contain valuable information about tribal groups, historical context, the photographers, and stereotyping. Students in secondary school and general readers as well as scholars will find value in this documentation of British Columbia First Nations through photographs. Copying People is an authorized student resource for Alberta Education grade 10, 11, and 12 courses.