All are invited to the Ashcroft Library on Wednesday, Oct. 16 for “Missing in History: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Indigenous Rights Activist James Teit”.
The presentation, by Wendy Wickwire, is drawn from her recent critically-acclaimed book At the Bridge: James Teit and an Anthropology of Belonging. Teit (1864-1922) emigrated from Scotland to Canada in 1884 and settled at Spences Bridge. He came to Canada to work as an orchardist, but used “The Bridge” as his base while he studied the Indigenous people of much of B.C., as well as northern Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
Rather than treat Indigenous people as the last survivors of “dying cultures” whose stories needed to be preserved in museums, Teit worked with them as members of living cultures who were actively asserting jurisdiction over their lives and lands, learned their languages, and studied their cultures.
Whether recording stories and songs, mapping place-names, or participating in the chiefs’ fight for fair treatment, he made their objectives his own. With his allies, he produced copious, meticulous records; an army of anthropologists could not have achieved a fraction of what Teit achieved in his short life.
He spent four decades helping British Columbia’s Indigenous peoples challenge the settler-colonial assault on their lives and lands, and wrote many volumes about their lives, culture, traditions, beliefs, way of life, and legends, yet his story is little-known. At the Bridge, and Wickwire’s presentation, are long-overdue correctives, consolidating Teit’s place as an innovative anthropologist and according him the status he deserves: one of the leading political anthropologists of the 20th century.
“Missing in History” will run from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 16 at the Ashcroft Library on Brink Street. There will be an opportunity to meet Wendy Wickwire and obtain copies of her book ($34.95 in paperback). There is no charge to attend, but space is limited, so registration is recommended; call the library at (250) 453-9042, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.tnrl.ca.