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THREE ATHAPASKAN ETHNOGRAPHIES
Preface by Barnett Richling
"Diamond Jenness was a diligent and talented ethnographer, and the years 1921-1924 were particularly productive. . . . [Jenness] did his ethnographic work through Canada's Department of Mines and Resources. Jenness has been criticized for writing ethnography rather than theory, but looking back on his work almost a century later, one can see theories flourish and disappear while ethnography remains. In these studies, Jenness demonstrates his ability to record an astonishing amount of ethnographic information in a relatively short period of time. His fieldwork was based on intensive collaborative interviews with knowledgeable members of the communities he visited." --Robin Ridington, BC Studies
Available together in a single volume for the first time are Canadian anthropologist Diamond Jenness’ pioneering studies of three Athapaskan nations: the prairie-dwelling Tsuu T’ina of Alberta, and the Sekani and Wet’suwet’en in British Columbia’s mountainous northern interior. Based on his wide-ranging interviews with elders in the 1920s, these richly detailed and sympathetic ethnographies comprise a valuable record of the histories and cultures of indigenous communities, like myriad others across the country and around the world, struggling to preserve their autonomy and traditions in the face of relentless assimilative forces.
This edition contains original black and white photography, Jenness’ own drawings, and a wealth of stories collected firsthand from his informants. And in a new preface, Barnett Richling sketches the disciplinary and institutional background to early northern Athapaskan researches, and describes the local conditions Jenness met, and the methods he employed, while in the field. The work of one of Canada’s most distinguished anthropologists, this trio of keenly observed and meticulously drawn accounts remains fascinating reading to this day.
About the Authors: Diamond Jenness was a pioneering anthropologist noted for his groundbreaking studies of aboriginal peoples during the first half of the twentieth century. Barnett Richling is a senior scholar in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Winnipeg, and author of In Twilight and in Dawn: A Biography of Diamond Jenness (McGill-Queens, 2012).