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Vickie Jensen and Jay Powell fonds
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Kwak’wala

The series contains records created during a number of visits and projects completed with the Kwakwaka'wakw of Alert Bay.

After meeting David Grubb at the Salish Conferences in the early 1970s, Jensen was invited by Grubb to attend a potlatch on Gilford Island, just off Alert Bay.  It was the first potlatch that she attended, and Jensen photographed it in black and white without flash.

Around the same time, Gloria Cranmer Webster began involving her UBC colleague Powell in discussions on the development of a Kwak’wala orthography. The two worked on this project during their breaks at work, with the main end goal to create accurate labels for artefacts at the museum, then located in the basement of the library on campus.

In 1975, after she moved back to Alert Bay, Webster contacted Powell and asked him to assist her in the creation of a language and culture book for Kwak’wala speaking people. Powell travelled to Alert Bay, the first of many trips to do such work. Over the next few years, Powell and Jensen were invited to Alert Bay on a number of occasions to attend potlatches, pole raisings, and other community events. Jensen photographed the events, as well as other aspects of the community such as the day care and band school.

In 1980 Webster, on behalf of the U’Mista Cultural Centre, secured salaries for both Jensen and Powell for one full year. They were hired to produce language and culture books, but in reality helped with many other aspects leading to the opening of the Centre. They rented a house in the village and lived there full time for the year, immersing themselves in the community, and creating a body of records that integrates both work and community life. Jensen had permission to photograph extensively, and these are all included in this series. Powell did linguistic research and worked with teachers from both the band school and the provincial school that were located in the village. Jensen also photographed language and culture lessons to be used in the books being produced. During the year they lived in Alert Bay, they produced 12 language books and a teacher’s manual for U’mista.

In 1982 Powell and Jensen purchased a house in Alert Bay, further cementing their intentions to maintain connections to the community. They continued to attend and photograph events and potlatches between projects.

In 1983 the Kwak’wala Teacher Training Program (KTTP) was developed by Powell and Jensen. The program was a college credit course for local area teachers to train them to lead language and culture lessons in their classes. Jensen and Powell divided their teaching duties, involving another teacher named Joy Wild. The program was successful for two years.

Over the next 20 years many of their visits were social in nature, although they continued to keep a detailed record of the events they attended. In 2001 they completed a CD-ROM for the Learning Kwak’wala series. This project had been ongoing for some time.

The series also contains photographic records of two events that took place outside the realm of the language projects. The Canadian Museum of Civilisation hired Doug Cranmer to carve a new Wakas Pole to replace the decaying version in Stanley Park and contacted Jensen to document the event. The second set of photographs records a trip organised by U’Mista Cultural Centre for scholars and experts to visit Mimkwamlis (Village Island) and T’sadzis’nukwakme’ (New Vancouver).

The records kept in this series consist of recordings, photographs, research notes, draft teaching aids, and copies of completed resources for both children’s education and the KTTP.

The series consists of eleven sub-series:
A. U’Mista research/background
B. Research materials
C. Field notes
D. Publications
E. Kwak’wala teacher training program
F. Kwak’wala CD-ROM project
G. Kwak’wala photographs
H. Potlatch photographs.
I. Wakas pole raising in Stanley Park 1987 photographs
J. Trip to Village Island and New Vancouver photographs 2005.
K. Audio recordings

Kwak’wala photographs

Consists of photographs taken of people and events in Alert Bay and surrounding Kwak’wala speaking communities. Photographs document the activities of the era such as potlatches, fishing, trapping, and activities surrounding the opening of the U’Mista Cultural Centre, and many were taken for the purpose of using them in educational language books.

Gitksan

Series documents Jensen and Powell’s work with and visits to the Gitksan speaking villages in North Western British Columbia. Jensen and Powell worked with the Gitksan to produce language and culture material.

Jensen’s first visit to Gitksan territory was in 1975, before they began to work with the communities.  Jensen was asked to accompany Dr. Marjorie Halpen of the Museum of Anthropology, Amelia Sussman Schultz (a former student of anthropologist Franz Boas) and UBC grad student Carol Sheehan McLaren to Prince Rupert and various Gitksan villages.  The impetus for the journey was that Schultz was interested in recovering her old dissertation notes that she left with William Beynon, a hereditary Tsimshian chief  who served as ethnographer, translator, and linguistic consultant to anthropologists including Boas. Although she had never completed her dissertation, in her retirement she regretted leaving the information.  During this trip Jensen photographed the Gitksan villages through which they travelled, making special note of the burial houses and totems she encountered.

Two years later the Gitksan band approached Jensen and Powell to create language and culture materials. Powell secured the funding through the BC Ministry of Education and the federal government.

Powell and Jensen lived and worked with the Gitksan in the summers from 1977 to 1981. The first three years were spent focussing on what they have termed the Eastern dialect. In this period they lived and worked in Kispiox, staying in a teacherage the first year (a small apartment built for housing teachers), and moving in the second year to the back room of the house of one of their linguistic informants, Clara Harris. The third year they again lived with Clara Harris until halfway through the summer when they decided to expand the project to include the Western dialect: at this time they moved to Kitwancool (now known as Gitanyow) where they again lived in a teacherage. The final two summers they returned to Kispiox to live with Clara Harris.

Powell worked with a number of linguistic informants, including Clara Harris, Edith Gawa, and Mary Johnson for the Eastern dialect, and Solomon Marsden, with the help of Ivan Good, Maggie Good, Cindy Morgan, Edith and Abel Campbell, David Milton, Olive Mulwain, Fred Johnson and Jeffrey Morgan for the Western. The materials produced throughout the Gitksan project are divided into Eastern and Western Gitksan. The books produced for the Eastern dialect were called Gitksan for Kids. The books for the Western dialect were called Learning Gitksan. In addition to the educational material, other resources were developed including illustrated alphabet sheets, the Northwest Coast Word List (which was intended as the basis for a full dictionary, a goal that did not transpire), and the Gitksan Teacher’s Manual.

As was the case with all the communities they lived in, Powell and Jensen found that work and recreation in small Aboriginal communities blended together, and many of the activities they took part in were incorporated into the language materials produced. Jensen photographed the cultural activities they attended, and they made audio and photographic records of Elders reminiscing about what they referred to as the “old ways.” Both Jensen and Powell were adopted into Gitksan tribes during their time living in the region: Jensen to the Firweed Clan, and Powell to the Lax Gibuu, or Wolf Clan, both of Kispiox. This series comprises all the records created during their stays in Gitksan villages.

The series consists of nine sub-series:
A. Field notes and correspondence
B. Research
C. Published educational materials
D. Unpublished manuscripts
E. Tsimshian-Gitksan materials
F. Eastern and Western Gitksan recordings
G. Eastern Gitksan photographs
H. Western Gitksan photographs
I. Doreen Jensen
J. Gitksan artist photographs

Research

Consists of research materials referenced in the creation of the Gitksan language and curriculum books. Includes works such as the Classified word list for B.C. Indian Languages by Larry Thompson and the Gitksan Dictionary by Hindle and Rigsby.

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.

Audio recordings

Consists of audio recordings created for various purposes. Many are recordings community members reading the language education materials created in both the Western and Eastern dialects. These recordings were intended to be used in conjunction with the books. Other recordings consist of interviews with community informants. Powell used the recorded interviews in preparation for the creation of language education materials. Finally, some of the recordings include community stories and songs that were considered and sometimes used in the language materials.

Eastern Gitksan photographs

Consists of photographs in the form of negatives, prints and slides from Jensen’s visit to the Gitksan villages in 1975, and from Jensen and Powell’s work and life in the Eastern villages between 1977 – 1982. 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.

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.

Doreen Jensen

Consists of audio cassettes and transcripts of the photo identification session involving Sue Rowley (curator of public archaeology at the Museum of Anthropology), Vickie Jensen, and Doreen Jensen (Gitksan artist and curator). The session took place over two days, March 12, 2002 and April 9, 2002 with the goal of identifying the events and people in the photographs of Mary Johnson’s bitxw (divorce potlatch).

Gitksan artist photographs

Consists of photographs in print and slide format documenting Gitksan artists, both amateur and professional, that Jensen and Powell worked with or knew personally during their time living with the Gitksan.

Nuu-chah-nulth

Series is made up of records related to the creation of a Nuu-chah-nulth (otherwise referred to as T’aat’aaqsapa, West Coast language, or Nootka) dictionary.

Powell was first contacted to do a Nuu-chah-nulth language project in 1989 by Andrew Callicum, a Nuu-chah-nulth Elder and acquaintance.  Originally they planned to create curriculum materials, but after John Thomas, a main informant, left the project, it was decided that they would create a dictionary instead.

Series comprises five sub-series:
A. Field notes
B. Dictionary/publications
C. Research materials
D. Morphological lexicon
E. Audio recordings

Field notes

Consists of a number of notebooks of mostly handwritten notes by Powell on the Nuu-chah-nulth language, providing the basis for the printed vocabulary, curriculum, and dictionary developed in this period.

Dictionary/publications

Consists of Nuu-chah-nulth and Nitinat alphabet sheets; Our World-Our Ways: T’aat’aaqsapa Cultural Dictionary; The Nuu-chah-nulth Dictionary: Roots, Affixes & English Finder List (November 30, 1995); Nuu-chah-nulth Dictionary: Roots and Affix Files (May 1, 1995).

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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