Rewriting Anthropology and Identifications on the North Pacific Coast: The Work of George Hunt, William Beynon, Franz Boas, and Marius Barbeau

The stunning aesthetic appeal of the heraldic poles, masks, house fronts, and associated material culture of the First Nations cultures of Canada's north-west coast, their complex kinship systems, and their traditions of feasting and gift-giving have attracted the attention of many anthropologists, including two of its founders in North America. Franz Boas (1848- 1942) became interested in these cultures while still in Germany; he made the first of many field trips to British Columbia in 1886. Marius Barbeau (1883-1969), a Rhodes Scholar trained by Alfred Radcliffe-Brown and Marcel Mauss, began to study the Tsimshian in 1914 near the beginning ofa long career in the National Museum of Canada. This study focuses on them and their work with two other men: George Hunt (1854-1933), who worked for Boas on Kwakiutl culture, and William Beynon (1888- 1958), who worked for both Barbeau and Boas on Tsimshian culture. Recruited as interpreters, both are now regarded as anthropologists in their own right.1 This transformation in their roles from the perspective of the discipline of anthropology today is based on the thousands of pages of ethnographic writing they produced.

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Published 1 November 2010 in Volume 25 No. 4. Subjects: Ethnography.

Cite as: Fee, Margery. ‘Rewriting Anthropology and Identifications on the North Pacific Coast: The Work of George Hunt, William Beynon, Franz Boas, and Marius Barbeau.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 25, no. 4, 2010. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.1e6b7d2349.