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James Alexander Teit

James Teit (1864-1922) was born on Scotland's Shetland Islands and emigrated to Canada as a young man. He eventually settled in Spences Bridge, British Columbia, where he married a local Nlaka'pamux woman named Lucy Artko. By the time she died in 1914, Teit had become immersed in Nlaka'pamux life and traditions.

Teit was hired by anthropologist Franz Boas, in the late nineteenth century, to undertake collecting and research for the American Museum of Natural History's Jesup Expedition (1897-1902). The goal of the Jesup Expedition was to investigate the cultural, linguistic and biological links between the indigenous peoples of the northern Pacific regions of America and Asia. The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) published much of Teit's research and he amassed the bulk of their Interior Salish artifact collection. In 1911, Edward Sapir of the Geological Survey of Canada, now the Canadian Museum of Civilization, also enlisted Teit's assistance in developing its artifact, sound and photograph collections. Cuts in government spending, at the end of the First World War, brought an end to Teit's sporadic employment with the Survey.

Teit collected thousands of objects for various museums; most of the material he bought or gathered resides in four institutions - the American Museum of Natural History, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Peabody Harvard Museum, and the Royal British Columbia Museum. The photographic work of James Teit is documented in the Mercury Publication, The Interior Salish Tribes of British Columbia: A Photographic Collection (1987), edited by Leslie Tepper. We encourage you to visit our featured presentation on Teit, where it is possible to get a close-up view of many of the objects featured in his photographs.

Ususéllst, a Nlaka'pamux (Thompson) man wearing traditional clothing (fringed fur cape, woven bark and fur hat, beaded cuffs and rattle), profile view, photographed in 1913 at Spences Bridge, British Columbia

Christine TsEkEnêlxEmux, a Nlaka'pamux (Thompson) woman, wearing traditional clothing; it consists of a type of dress usually worn by older women, on occasion also worn by young girls, beaded moccasins, fringed, painted leggings, and a fringed skirt, all made of buckskin.

Nlaka'pamux (Thompson) man in a traditional costume and holding a war club, Spences Bridge, British Columbia

Young Nlaka'pamux (Thompson) man wearing an eagle feather bonnet and a woven goat hair blanket wrapped around his body, British Columbia

Erik Teit wearing Nlaka'pamux (Thompson) clothing made of buckskin, Spences Bridge, British Columbia

Nlaka'pamux (Thompson) Chief John Tetlenitsa in traditional clothing and holding a war club, Ottawa, Ontario

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