ON May 11th of this year, accompanied by Mr. E. P. Allen, the museum photographer, I left Chicago for a four months' tour among the Indians of the far West. The object of the journey was to secure material for the Department of Anthropology, more especially to get such objects as could be worked into groups to illustrate the culture history of the Western Indians, and also to secure material to represent the physical characteristics of certain of these races.
Between Chicago and the Pacific coast we visited three great families of Indians: the Blackfeet of Montana and Canada, the Elatheads of Montana, and the Kootenays of British Columbia and Idaho. When we reached Victoria, on June 19th, we had before us two groups of Indians on the northwest coast to visit—the Haidas and the Tsimshians.
As may be seen on an ethnographical map of the Northwest, the Haidas and Tsimshians are only two of five great stocks which are to be found on this coast. Beginning with the north are the Tlingits, who occupy the islands and coast of southern Alaska. Just to the south come the Haidas, who live on Dall and the Prince of Wales Islands of Alaska and the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia. Next come the Tsimshians of the Nass and Skeena Pivers and the neighboring coast and islands. Below them are the Kwakiutls, inhabiting the coast from Gardiner Channel to Cape Mudge on the mainland and the west coast of Vancouver Island. The fifth and last group is the Salish, inhabiting the eastern half of Vancouver Island, the southwestern corner of the mainland of British Columbia, and parts of Washington, Idaho, and Montana.
It is not an easy matter to reach the Queen Charlotte Islands. The Victoria steamers touch at the town of Skidegate once a month, but remain for a few hours only, and the facilities for getting away from Skidegate are limited to Indian canoes. Furthermore, Skidegate and vicinity have been pretty thoroughly investigated by anthropologists, and we were especially desirous of visiting Masset, a remote Haida village on the northern shore of Graham Island, the largest of the Queen Charlotte group. This village is visited by steamers but once or twice a year, when the supplies are taken over
- From a lecture delivered in the Field Columbian Museum, November 6, 1897.