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Vickie Jensen and Jay Powell
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raising the pole

Raising of the pole during a ceremony given by the Native Education Centre. The textual info is in WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING.

Geographic Location: Native Education Centre

Western Gitksan photographs

Consists of photographs, in the form of negatives, prints and slides, taken during the period that Jensen and Powell lived and worked in the Western Gitksan villages. The images include photographs that were used to illustrate the language books being produced, and other photographs that documented the culture and way of living in these communities.

Vickie Jensen and Jay Powell

  • 3
  • Fonds
  • 1969-2008

Fonds consists of records relating to the numerous culture and language projects that Powell and Jensen worked on since 1976. The communities with which they worked include:
• The Quileute of La Push
• The Kwakwaka’wakw of Alert Bay
• The Gitksan of Kispiox, Gitanyow, and surrounding villages
• The Nuu-chah-nulth of Vancouver Island
• The Musqueam of Vancouver
• The Seton Lake St'at'imc (Lillooet) of Shalalth
• The Shuswap of Alkali Lake, Soda Creek, Dog Creek, Canim Lake, and Sugar Cane
• The Haisla of Kitamaat
• The Nisga’a of Gingolx (Kincolith) and New Aiyansh

Most of the projects had an end goal to produce a book, language education materials, or teacher training materials. Often the education materials incorporated cultural lessons throughout. The records created in the production of the books are varied and reflect the intrinsic connection between language, culture, and daily activities in the communities. Powell and Jensen were co-editors for nearly all of the language books and materials produced. Although some of the projects reflected in the records were done primarily by Powell or primarily by Jensen, the vast majority of the work involves collaboration between the two in some aspect. As Jensen and Powell immersed themselves in the communities they worked for, often their personal photographs and records are interspersed with those relating to their work. This community involvement enhanced their relationships with the people with whom they were working and allowed them to experience and participate in cultural activities as part of those communities. This close relationship is reflected in and is integral to their work. Jensen and Powell have two sons: Nels, born in 1978, and Luke, born in 1981. Their sons travelled with them to the communities in which they worked and lived, and on their work trips and sabbaticals. Nels and Luke are also present in many of the photographic records.

The records contain a mixture of research, field notes, administrative records, and publications at various stages, in addition to audio and visual records.  Field notes, for the most part handwritten, and archival research into language and culture groups was undertaken by Powell, whilst the majority of the photography, found in a variety of formats, was done by Jensen.  Manuscripts and final publications were a combined effort and are included at various stages.  Administrative records, including grant proposals, are found throughout.

Fonds consists of 13 series of records. Series are arranged according to community and/or project, and include:

1. Quileute
2. Chinook Jargon
3. Kwak’wala (U’Mista)
4. Gitksan
5. Nuu-chah-nulth
6. Salishan
7. Shuswap
8. Haisla
9. Tait
10. Northwest Coast artists
11. Northwest Coast groups
12. UBC totems/events
13. Publications

Vickie Jensen and Jay Powell

Unpublished manuscript and lessons

Includes a number of versions of the unpublished manuscript titled <i>Chinook Jargon: The Language of Northwest History.</i> Also included are the lessons prepared for the Chinook Jargon classes taught by Powell at Langara College, 1974 – 75.

University of British Columbia (UBC) series

Series consists of photographs documenting totem pole raising or restoration and other events held at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Museum of Anthropology (MOA).

In 1976 Jensen was hired by MOA to document the installation of totem poles into the new building.  Jensen did not keep the negatives for these photographs (MOA did in this instance).  She was hired again in 1981 to create a slide loop of images to be featured in the museum.  After working with the museum, she felt welcome there and often gave talks or did training.  Most of the subsequent photographs in this series were taken at public events such as book launches or pole raisings.

Tsimshian-Gitksan materials

Consists of Tsimshian language education materials produced by Margaret Seguin and Susan Marsden. The materials were used by Powell for research purposes during his work on the Gitksan books.

Tait family and crew artists’ photographs

Consists of photographs documenting the work of various artists that assisted Norman Tait in the period that Jensen was photographing his work. Most of the photographs included in this sub-series are of the various side projects that the artists would spend time on whilst major projects such as totem poles were in progress. Artists photographed in this sub-series are: Norman Tait, Isaac Tait, Robert “Chip” Tait, Ron Telek , Wayne Young, Valerie Tait, Alver Tait, Bernice __ .

Tait

Series documents Nisga’a artist Norman Tait and his crew of carvers during a period in which they were prolific in their creation of totem poles.

Jensen first met Tait in the early 1970s when she would photographic artists’ works for Bud Mintz, Vancouver gallery owner.  In 1985 she had the idea to produce a book documenting the carving of a totem pole from start to finish.  She approached Tait, who initially refused but called Jensen back just a few days later to take her up on the offer, after being commissioned to create a pole for the Native Education Centre in Vancouver.

Jensen photographed Tait and his crew, which consisted of his brother Robert (Chip), his cousin Harry Martin (Hammy), his nephew Wayne Young and his eldest son Isaac (Ikey). She also made notes and audio recordings of Tait’s lessons to his crew, most of whom had never worked on such a large project. The photographs and tapes were used in the creation of the book Where the People Gather: Carving a Totem Pole. The project also led to the publication of a children’s version, Carving a Totem Pole and a paperback version titled Totem Pole Carving. The books were published in the early 1990s.

Jensen documented Tait’s next two major commissions: two poles for Capilano Mall in 1986, and a pole for Stanley Park in 1987.

In 1987 Tait adopted Jensen into the Nisga’a Eagle Clan and began to teach her about the responsibilities that came with the honour. The lessons were put into practice in 2001 when Tait asked Vickie to guard the body of a family member that had died.

The series includes photographic records of the creation of the four poles; audio recordings of lessons and interviews with Tait; transcripts of the audio tapes; and notes. The series consists of five sub-series:

A. Native Education Centre (NEC) pole photographs
B. Capilano Mall and Stanley Park poles photographs
C. Misc. photographs
D. Tait family and crew artists’ photographs
E. Audio tapes and transcripts.

Shuswap teacher training

Consists of materials produced for teaching training and development during Phase 2 of the Shuswap project. Includes a Teacher’s Manual developed with the assistance of Joy Wild, teaching units, Chilcotin readers by Maria Myers (produced during this period by Jensen) and a Chilcotin alphabet sheet.

Shuswap

Series consists of records pertaining to the development of Shushwap Language books and a teacher’s manual.

In the summer of 1979 Jensen and Powell moved to Alkali Lake for the summer to begin the Shuswap project.  The work later expanded to include the communities of Soda Creek, Dog Creek, Canim Lake and Sugar Cane.  Their primary language resources were Phyllis Chelsea and Celina Harry for the younger students’ books, and Phyllis Chelsea, Celina Harry, Cecelia DeRose, May Dixon, Elizabeth Pete, Minnie Phillips, Margaret Gilbert, Lucy Archie, Sharon Paul, and Cecile Harry for the older students’ book.  In the latter part of the project Powell and Jensen also developed a curriculum with Joy Wild, and produced a teacher’s manual.

The series consists of seven sub-series:
A. Project records phase I
B. Project records phase II
C. Research
D. Original manuscripts for publications
E. Shuswap Teacher Training
F. Photographs and slides
G. Recordings.

Salishan audio recordings

Consists of audio recordings made as part of the research for the Musqueam and Seton Lake Lillooet language materials. The Musqueam recordings mainly consist of interviews with informant Andrew Guerin on lexical and grammatical aspects of the language. The information on these recordings were used by Powell in the Musqueam language books. The Lillooet recordings are of community member Cida Link reading the Lillooet alphabet. These were done to accompany educational materials.

Salishan

Series contains records relating to Jensen and Powell’s work with the Salishan language groups in Musqueam and Shalalth territories, and events related to those communities. Although the records were created in a number of villages at different periods of time, Jensen and Powell arranged them together due to the linguistic connection they share.

In 1975 Powell received an Urgent Ethnology grant from the National Museum of Man (Now the Canadian Museum of Civilization) to do linguistic work in Kitamaat. However, this work fell through, and Powell contacted Arnold Guerin of the Musqueam band to discuss using the grant to prepare materials for Guerin’s Hunqum’i’num classes. Together they planned to produce three books: one of phonetics, one on grammar, and one on maths, with Jensen’s assistance in the layout and photography. From reel-to-reel recordings Powell and Paul Thiele of the UBC Library for the Blind produced cassettes to accompany the books. Only the first book was completed as planned, but Powell adapted the notes they had already taken to create two books for younger children. All of this resulted in Musqueam Language: Book 1 and Hunq’um’i’num for Kids: Books 1 & 2. Three years later in 1978 Leona Sparrow hired Jensen on grant money to teach a black and white photography course.

In 1989 the principal of the Shalalth School asked Powell to work with the band on language books.  With Harold Oldman and Bev Frank he compiled materials for two books, which were not published.  He also completed an alphabet sheet for the community to use.

Series also includes photographs taken by Jensen in 2003 of a ceremony returning city land to the Musequeam near Vanier Park.

Series comprises four sub-series:
A. Field notes and research
B. Publications
C. Musqueam photographs
D. Salishan audio recordings
E. Squamish photographs

Research materials

Consists of articles and other records used by Powell to research Chinook Jargon and its historical uses. Powell referenced the sources in the unpublished manuscript Chinook Jargon: The Language of Northwest History.

Research materials

Consists of research materials on Nuu-chah-nulth, mainly from Sapir and Swadesh. Also includes research on teaching materials produced by Suzanne Rose and Ed Tatoosh.

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