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Nass River Indians

Accession number: 
2000.0001

Directors of Photography:

Actors and Participants:

Production Years: 
1927

Languages:

Film Properties: 
Length (feet): 
1570 (35mm)
Length (minutes): 
18
Holding Institutions: 

Library and Archives Canada (reconstructed version): 35mm, VHS, digibeta.
"This film, reconstructed by staff of Library and Archives Canada from film shot by James Sibley Watson Jr., documents the activities of Marius Barbeau and Ernest MacMillan among the Nisga'a of the Nass River region of British Columbia. Barbeau, an ethnologist at the National Museum of Canada, and MacMillan, then principal of the Toronto Conservatory of Music, are depicted in their efforts to record 'with camera and phonograph' what the film's first intertitle describes as 'the vanishing culture, the rites and songs and dances of the Indians along the Canadian Pacific Coast, north of Vancouver'. Beginning with a sequence depicting aboriginal women at work in a cannery at Fishery Bay near the mouth of the Nass, the film depicts a journey upstream, from the cannery and bungalow camps near the coast to the mission village of Kincolith, and 'old Geetiks' further inland. Along with the ensuing spectacle of dance and song, and the display of material culture these involved, Barbeau and MacMillan are shown transcribing songs and making wax cylinder recordings. The film ends with the intertitle: 'The cannery cans the salmon. The camera cans the dances and now the phonograph cans the songs - everything canned but the Indians!' "

Bibliography: 

Lynda Jessup, "Tin Cans and Machinery: Saving the Sagas and Other Stuff," Visual Anthropology 12 (Spring 1999), 49-86.

Lynda Jessup, “Marius Barbeau and Early Ethnographic Cinema,” in Around and About Marius Barbeau: Writings on the Politics of Twentieth-Century Canadian Culture, Lynda Jessup, Andrew Nurse and Gordon Smith, eds. (Gatineau: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2008), 269-304.

Comments: 
Lost film reconstituted by Lynda Jessup from two Associated Screen News productions using the same footage, "Saving the Sagas" and "Fish and Medicine Men".