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Norman Tait
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Norman Tait's family

Norman Tait stands at the center with Rob't Tait behind him, Mercy holding an umbrella on one side and Sadie Tait on the other side. Unidentified guests appear at the left side of image.

Tait family members

Image features Mercy in conversation with a family member. Sadie Tait can be seen in the background to the left.

Mercy making her first cut

Image features Mercy making her first cut at the canoe log with Norman standing by her side. Both have their backs to the photographer.

Tait family

From left to right Sadie, Josiah, Mercy, Norman, Rob't, Ron, Wayne, and Isaac are pictured here standing in front of the canoe log.

Squirrel Dance

Image features Norman performing his squirrel dance on top of the canoe log. A family member wearing a button blanket with his back to the camera is beating a skin drum.

Squirrel Dance

A Tait family member wearing a button blanket watches Norman perform his squirrel dance on top of canoe log.

Squirrel Dance

A Tait family member wearing a button blanket watches Norman crouched on top of canoe log performing his squirrel dance.

Squirrel Dance

Norman Tait performing his squirrel on top of the canoe log.

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.

Crew moving log from the Turnbull & Gail construction yard in Richmond (contractors for building the new Native Education Centre) to UBC's carving shed

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of the crew loading log onto flatbed truck to move it from the Turnbull & Gail construction yard in Richmond (contractors for the Native Ed. Centre) to old UBC carving shed. Info corresponds to text from WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING pp. 38-41.

Notes:
Robert Tait (Chip) had told all the guys to ask as many people as possible to come move the log off the truck and into the carving shed. They didn’t have a forklift to do this but Norman also said he wanted as many people as possible to “touch the log”, that he wanted things done as traditionally as possible. All lifts and moves were done to the beat of the drum. The log was heavy and it was also difficult getting it between the small saplings.

Geographic Location: The old UBC Carving Shed

Crew and log at the old UBC carving shed

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of people after log has been moved into the old UBC carving shed. The textual info is in WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING p. 40-41.)
Notes:
• Norman told me that “they” had to pay for moving the log to UBC’s carving shed (i.e. it came out of his contract monies). After the log was moved into the shed, the wolf clan chieftainess Mercy Robinson Thomas makes a public call for donations. As people come up and put money into a cedarbark hat, she calls out their name and amount. Andy Morrison (in army beret) helps collect and count the money. A total of $126.05 is collected. Then Chip jumps on the log and thanks everybody for their help.

Geographic Location: all photos at area around the old UBC Carving Shed

Crew and log at the old UBC carving shed

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of people after log has been moved into the old UBC carving shed. The textual info is in WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING p. 40-41.)
Notes:
• Norman told me that “they” had to pay for moving the log to UBC’s carving shed (i.e. it came out of his contract monies). After the log was moved into the shed, the wolf clan chieftainess Mercy Robinson Thomas makes a public call for donations. As people come up and put money into a cedarbark hat, she calls out their name and amount. Andy Morrison (in army beret) helps collect and count the money. A total of $126.05 is collected. Then Chip jumps on the log and thanks everybody for their help.

Geographic Location: all photos at area around the old UBC Carving Shed

Crew and log at the old UBC carving shed

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of people after log has been moved into the old UBC carving shed. The textual info is in WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING p. 40-41.)
Notes:
• Norman told me that “they” had to pay for moving the log to UBC’s carving shed (i.e. it came out of his contract monies). After the log was moved into the shed, the wolf clan chieftainess Mercy Robinson Thomas makes a public call for donations. As people come up and put money into a cedarbark hat, she calls out their name and amount. Andy Morrison (in army beret) helps collect and count the money. A total of $126.05 is collected. Then Chip jumps on the log and thanks everybody for their help.

Geographic Location: all photos at area around the old UBC Carving Shed

Crew and log at the old UBC carving shed

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of people after log has been moved into the old UBC carving shed. The textual info is in WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING p. 40-41.)
Notes:
• Norman told me that “they” had to pay for moving the log to UBC’s carving shed (i.e. it came out of his contract monies). After the log was moved into the shed, the wolf clan chieftainess Mercy Robinson Thomas makes a public call for donations. As people come up and put money into a cedarbark hat, she calls out their name and amount. Andy Morrison (in army beret) helps collect and count the money. A total of $126.05 is collected. Then Chip jumps on the log and thanks everybody for their help.

Geographic Location: all photos at area around the old UBC Carving Shed

Crew and log at the old UBC carving shed

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of people after log has been moved into the old UBC carving shed. The textual info is in WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING p. 40-41.)
Notes:
• Norman told me that “they” had to pay for moving the log to UBC’s carving shed (i.e. it came out of his contract monies). After the log was moved into the shed, the wolf clan chieftainess Mercy Robinson Thomas makes a public call for donations. As people come up and put money into a cedarbark hat, she calls out their name and amount. Andy Morrison (in army beret) helps collect and count the money. A total of $126.05 is collected. Then Chip jumps on the log and thanks everybody for their help.

Geographic Location: all photos at area around the old UBC Carving Shed

Crew and log at the old UBC carving shed

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of people after log has been moved into the old UBC carving shed. The textual info is in WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING p. 40-41.)
Notes:
• Norman told me that “they” had to pay for moving the log to UBC’s carving shed (i.e. it came out of his contract monies). After the log was moved into the shed, the wolf clan chieftainess Mercy Robinson Thomas makes a public call for donations. As people come up and put money into a cedarbark hat, she calls out their name and amount. Andy Morrison (in army beret) helps collect and count the money. A total of $126.05 is collected. Then Chip jumps on the log and thanks everybody for their help.

Geographic Location: all photos at area around the old UBC Carving Shed

Tait family regalia

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of people after log has been moved into the old UBC carving shed. 1st 3 rows of photos shows people after log has been moved into the old UBC carving shed. The textual info is in WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING p. 40-41.) Text info for last 9 images is from pp. 42-45.

Notes:
• Norman told me that “they” had to pay for moving the log to UBC’s carving shed (i.e. it came out of his contract monies). After the Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of people after log has been moved into the old UBC carving shed.
Three photos of button blanket are possibly one that Dorothy Grant was making—three images that follow may be her and Doreen Jensen (Gitxsan carver) on the right. I don’t remember who they are talking to.

Geographic Location: all photos at area around the old UBC Carving Shed

Crew and log at the old UBC carving shed

Item is a b&w negative of Harry Martin cleaning out a damaged section at the top of the pole that will have to be plugged. The textual info is in WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING pp. 42-45.)

Geographic Location: all photos at area around the old UBC Carving Shed

Crew and log at the old UBC carving shed

Item is a b&w negative of Harry Martin cleaning out a damaged section at the top of the pole that will have to be plugged. The textual info is in WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING pp. 42-45.)

Geographic Location: all photos at area around the old UBC Carving Shed

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