Stk'emlupsemc Te Secwépemc First Nation Delegation Visits

On January 22-24, 2019, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Division of Anthropology, welcomed representatives of the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwépemc (Secwépemc) First Nation from Kamloops, Canada. The traditional territory of the Secwépemc, whose name means "the spread-out people," is located in the south-central interior of the Canadian province of British Columbia and stretches from the Columbia River valley along the Rocky Mountains, west to the Fraser River, and south to the Arrow Lakes. The Secwépemc are the northernmost of the peoples or nations of the Northern Plateau, and their traditional language, currently spoken fluently by less than 200 people, is Shuswap, known as Secwepemctsín.

The visit was funded by a repatriation grant that the Royal British Columbia Museum awarded to the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwépemc First Nation, and Secwépemc representatives reviewed relevant anthropological collections as well as historical photographs held in the Special Collections Library. Much of this material was accessioned during the Museum’s Jesup North Pacific Expedition in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when anthropologist Franz Boas hired James Teit and Harlan Smith to conduct research in Secwépemc communities. The Museum’s collection also includes plaster casts of known Secwépemc individuals, including full busts and life masks of Chief Louis of Tk’emlúps (Kamloops), Louis Fallardeau (Kamloops), Edward Hyacinthe (Kamloops and Skeetchestn), and Alek Sarent (Kamloops).

This visit marks the first time that a Stk’emlupsemc te Secwépemc delegation has visited the AMNH and continues a series of open and productive dialogues between First Nation communities and the Museum.

Four people pose behind a row of plaster cast busts of four people on a table.
Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwépemc representatives visit the AMNH’s anthropology collections, which includes plaster casts of known Secwépemc individuals collected during the Jesup Expedition. Left to right: Ms. Jeanette Jules, Ms. Freda Jules, Chief Dr. Ronald Ignace, Dr. Marianne Ignace.
Roderick Mickens/©AMNH
Ronald Ignace, Freda Jules, Marianne Ignace, and Jeanette Jules stand next to shelving in the Museum’s collection that contains ethnographic objects.
Ronald Ignace, Freda Jules, Marianne Ignace, and Jeanette Jules review ethnographic objects in the Museum’s collection of nearly 100 Secwépemc objects. Much of this material was described in James Teit’s 1909 work, "The Shuswap," titled after the anglicized culture name for the Secwépemc people.
R. Mickens/© AMNH
One person pulls out a cabinet drawer to show two other people the basket on it. Another specimen drawer is left open and holds various items.
Ronald Ignace, Freda Jules, Marianne Ignace, and Jeanette Jules take a closer look at birch bark baskets collected in the early 19th century. Baskets such as these were often made from a single swath of birch bark stitched with cedar root and used for gathering, storing, and preparing food.
R. Mickens/©AMNH
Two people look at objects in a drawer in the Museum's collections.
Marianne Ignace and Jeanette Jules review the intricate woven designs on textiles in the Museum’s Secwépemc (Shuswap) collection. Several of these objects were previously displayed in the Museum’s Northwest Coast Hall in the Thompson River alcove.
R. Mickens/© AMNH
Four people stand around a long table. On the table are four headpieces made with fur, feathers, and animal skin.
Jeanette Jules, Ronald Ignace, Freda Jules, and Marianne Ignace take a close look at four extraordinary headpieces made of the furs and skins of animals such as lynx, skunk, and loon. One cap published in Teit’s "The Shuswap" (1909) was fashioned from the head-skin of a deer and worn during hunting expeditions.
R. Mickens/©AMNH