Every once in a while, an important figure makes an appearance, makes a difference, and then disappears from the public record. James Teit (1864-1922) was such a figure.
Join Dr. Wendy Wickwire in conversation with Brian Carpenter, Curator of Native American Materials at the American Philosophical Society, as they discuss Teit’s life and work and the continued impact of the records he left behind.
In her new book, At the Bridge: James Teit and an Anthropology of Belonging (University of British Columbia Press, 2019), Wendy Wickwire highlights Teit’s journeys—between Shetland, UK and British Columbia; between Boasian anthropology and Indigenous forms of knowledge; between socialist political movements and Indigenous political movements—showing how he forged, along the way, a style of anthropology that was leagues ahead of its time.
From his base at Spences Bridge, British Columbia, Teit spent four decades helping Indigenous peoples in British Columbia challenge the settler-colonial assault on their lands and lives. From 1906 to 1922, Teit collaborated with chiefs from across the province on their campaigns against land-seizures, conscription, enforced enfranchisement and the potlatch ban. His legacy includes detailed notes on his interviews with hundreds of his Indigenous hosts—in their languages —on everything from hunting/fishing practices, stories and songs to ethnobotany and territorial landmarks. Much of this work appeared in eleven monographs (published by the American Museum of Natural History (NYC) and the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC). The rest exists in prominent archives, most notably the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Canadian History, and the American Philosophical Society. Indeed, Teit lived so many lives—as a rancher, an outdoorsman, a family man, a field biologist, a hunting guide, an anthropologist, a political activist—that it is impossible to fathom how he did it all.
The event will take place on Friday, April 17 at 1:00 p.m. EDT via Zoom. The event is free of charge; registration is required to attend.
To register, please visit the event website.
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