The Northwest Coast of North America has long been recognized as one of the world’s canonical art zones. Since the mid-1700s, objects or “art” deriving from the Indigenous cultures of this area have been desired, displayed, and exchanged, classified and interpreted, stolen and confiscated, bought and sold, and displayed again in many parts of the world. “Northwest Coast Native art” has proved to be a powerful idea, assuming many guises over the centuries. But how has it been defined, and by whom and why?
This remarkable volume, many years in the making, records and scrutinizes definitions of Northwest Coast Native art and its boundaries. A work of critical historiography, it makes accessible for the first time in one place a broad selection of more than 250 years of writing on Northwest Coast “art.” Organized thematically, its excerpted texts are from both published and unpublished sources, some not previously available in English. They cover such complex topics as the clash between oral and written knowledge, transcultural entanglement, the influence of surrealist thinking, and the long history of the deployment of Northwest Coast Native art for nationalist purposes. The selections are preceded by thought-provoking introductions that give historical context to the diverse intellectual traditions that have influenced, stimulated, and opposed each other.
The central importance of this book is that it counters the tendency to turn Northwest Coast Native “art” into a one-dimensional spectacle that obscures and reduces the values of its component cultures and ignores the wider histories of thought that have contributed to its production. In unsettling the conventions that have shaped “the idea of Northwest Coast Native art,” this book takes a central place in the lively, often heated, and now global, debates about what constitutes Native art and who should decide.
• A survey of the history of ideas and arguments that have shaped and disputed Northwest Coast Native art for more than 250 years.
• Contributors include leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous historians, art historians, anthropologists, legal experts, artists, and holders of traditional Indigenous knowledge.
• Richly illustrated with black-and-white figures and colour plates.
• A significant resource for scholars and students in a variety of disciplines that will also resonate with a wide international readership.
About the Author(s)
Charlotte Townsend-Gault is a professor in the Department of Art History and a faculty associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.
Jennifer Kramer is an associate professor of anthropology and a curator, Pacific Northwest, at the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia.
Ḳi-ḳe-in is a Nuuchaanulth historian, poet, and creator of many things, with forty years’ experience as a speaker and ritualist.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Idea of Northwest Coast Native Art / Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Jennifer Kramer, and Ki-ke-in
1 Interpreting Cultural Symbols of the People from the Shore / Daisy Sewid-Smith
2 Hilth Hiitinkis — From the Beach / Ḳi-ḳe-in
3 Haida Cosmic / Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
4 From Explorers to Ethnographers, 1770-1870 / Ira Jacknis
5 Thresholds of Meaning: Voice, Time, and Epistemology in the Archaeological Consideration of Northwest Coast Art / Andrew Martindale
6 Objects and Knowledge: Early Accounts from Ethnographers, and Their Written Records and Collecting Practices, ca. 1880-1930 / Andrea Laforet
7 “That Which Was Most Important”: Louis Shotridge on Crest Art and Clan History / Judith Berman
8 Anthropology of Art: Shifting Paradigms and Practices, 1870s-1950 / Bruce Granville Miller
9 Going by the Book: Missionary Perspectives / John Barker
10 The Dark Years / Gloria Cranmer Webster
11 Surrealists and the New York Avant-Garde, 1920-60 / Marie Mauzé
12 Northwest Coast Art and Canadian National Identity, 1900-50 / Leslie Dawn
13 Art/Craft in the Early Twentieth Century / Scott Watson
14 Welfare Politics, Late Salvage, and Indigenous (In)Visiblity, 1930-60 / Ronald W. Hawker
15 Form First, Function Follows: The Use of Formal Analysis in Northwest Coast Art History / Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse
16 Democratization and Northwest Coast Art in the Modern Period: Native Emissaries, Non-Native Connoisseurship, and Consumption / Judith Ostrowitz
17 History and Critique of the “Renaissance” Discourse / Aaron Glass
18 Starting from the Beginning / Marianne Nicolson
19 Shifting Theory, Shifting Publics: The Anthropology of Northwest Coast Art in the Postwar Era / Alice Marie Campbell
20 Value Added: The Northwest Coast Art Market since 1965 / Karen Duffek
21 “Where Mere Words Failed”: Northwest Coast Art and Law / Douglas S. White
22 Art for Whose Sake? / Ḳi-ḳe-in
23 “Fighting with Property”: The Double-Edged Character of Ownership / Jennifer Kramer
24 Museums and Northwest Coast Art / Aldona Jonaitis
25 Collaborations: A Historical Perspective / Martha Black
26 Pushing Boundaries, Defying Categories: Aboriginal Media Production on the Northwest Coast / Kristin L. Dowell
27 Art Claims in the Age of Delgamuukw / Charlotte Townsend-Gault
28 Stop Listening to Our Ancestors / Paul Chaat Smith
29 NWC on the Up … Load: Surfing for Northwest Coast Art / Dana Claxton
30 The Material and the Immaterial across Borders / Charlotte Townsend-Gault