Letter to the Editor: On Tsimshian Treasures—An Addendum

Christopher F. Roth

Since writing my review of Tsimshian Treasures, I have been contacted by Benjamin Carey of Edinburgh, Scotland, great-great-grandson of the collector Rev. Robert J. Dundas and son of the late Simon Carey, who was the Collection’s custodian for half a century. He has shared with me his concerns with the Globe and Mail article by Alexandra Gill cited in my review. Since communicating with him, I have become satisfied that the Globe and Mail mischaracterized the actions and intentions of the Carey family and misrepresented the situation of the availability of the Dundas journals. As Mr. Carey informed me, the family has always been ready to make the many journals and photograph album available to scholars, but this has always been constrained by serious conservation constraints, given the particular fragility of the one volume that describes “A visit to the Indian Settlement of Metlahkatlah (sic).” In fact, Mr. Carey, who knows that I work closely with Tsimshian communities, has offered to make the text available to me and to other scholars, as was the case with the curators of the recent exhibit and to whom Mr. Carey also freely supplied digital images of relevant extracts, which were reproduced in the catalogue. Despite what I wrote in my review and despite the implications in the Globe and Mail article, the Carey family indeed has nothing to hide and would welcome further research. I extend my apologies to Mr. Carey and his family, and to readers, for my failure to check for accuracy on this point and for any misunderstanding or damage this may have caused.

It seems clear to me that, given his openness and goodwill, Mr. Carey’s custodianship of the Dundas archive is good news for Tsimshian studies and for the Tsimshian people. I predict that fruitful dialogue and further contributions to knowledge will emerge from further study of it and of the Dundas Collection.

Chris Roth teaches anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has pursued ethnographic and ethnohistorical research among the Tsimshian in British Columbia since 1995.

Editor’s Note: The preceding addendum was submitted to, and posted by, the editor of Museum Anthropology Review on December 20, 2007. It was published as a comment to the original review of Tsimshian Treasures and later, on December 26, 2007 as a stand-alone letter to the editor. These multiple postings were undertaken by the editor so as to maximize opportunities for readers of the journal to find, and benefit from, the addendum. My thanks go to Dr. Roth and Mr. Carey for their support of the journal and for their shared concern for good scholarship.