Harlan I. Smith & the Jesup North Pacific Expedition By Brian Thom( Earlier draft of paper) In: Gateways to Jesup II: Franz Boas and the Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Edited by William Fitzhugh and Igor Krupnik. (Seattle: University of Washington Press)

[Note that the figures and footnotes (which are a substantial portion of this essay) have been removed.]


Harlan Ingersol Smith worked as the leading archaeologist for the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, under the direction of Franz Boas at the American Museum of Natural History. His field work for the Jesup Expedition was done in three consecutive field trips to British Columbia and Washington State between 1897 and 1899. During the Jesup Expedition, Smith's archaeological results were interpreted by Boas as being suggestive of the historical relationship between culture groups of the North American Pacific coast. Harlan I. Smith's contributions to the Jesup North Pacific Expedition left an important published legacy for the archaeology of the North Pacific Coast. These published works are well known by the archaeologists whose careers followed Smith and to some degree, defined much of the next seventy-five years of research. Research excavations have often been at places Smith documented in his published site maps. However, Smith's work on the Jesup North Pacific Expedition produced more than the published archaeological results. An archival legacy of correspondence, photographs and both physical and ethnological collections provide an important body of little-known work.

Although Smith's archaeological interpretations are seldom looked to now for his understanding of the prehistory of the area, his work does contribute to the understanding of both the cultures with which he worked, and the relationship between archaeologists, anthropologists and the people they study. Smith's letters, photographs and notes provide insight into the dynamics of the scholarship and research operating around Franz Boas and the Jesup Expedition. Specific research questions being asked today may be different, but many of the issues and situations faced by Smith one hundred years ago continue to be relevant for anthropological and archaeological field workers today.

Below is presented a historical narrative of Smith's field work for the Jesup North Pacific Expedition. The account is based primarily on the correspondence he had with Boas during his three trips to the field. This correspondence has been kept relatively in-tact in the accession records of the American Museum on Natural History. Smith made additional notes in his photograph records which supplement the information given in his correspondence. Unfortunately Smith's field notes can not be found in the archives of the American Museum, nor are they in the archives at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, where he spent the later half of his career. The archivist from the American Museum of Natural History has suggested that they were likely destroyed once the results of his work was published. From the reference Smith makes to them in a number of his letters, these notes would have contained a great deal more detail of his investigations and interactions with Native communities. Smith's published works relating to the Jesup Expedition provide the other main source of information on his investigations. These articles are generally very descriptive of his archaeological investigations, but tell only a small part of the story of his work, and almost nothing of ethnographic the work he did recording information from contemporary Native communities. The following account is intended to reveal the archival legacy left by Harlan I. Smith.

Harlan I. Smith before the Jesup North Pacific Expedition

Harlan I. Smith was born in Saginaw Michigan in 1872. His education began in public school, and received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan in 1893. Between 1891 and 1895 he had several jobs, working as a curatorial assistant in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University; as an assistant to the department of anthropology for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago; as a curator of anthropological collections in the University of Michigan museum; and as a researcher in Michigan for the Archaeological Institute of America . Although he wished to continue his formal education, his father's family business folded and could not afford to return for his Master's degree . In 1895 Smith was hired by the American Museum of Natural History to become the assistant curator of the archaeology collections. His initial task at the American Museum was to coordinate research at the Fox Farm site in Kentucky. When Boas began planning the Jesup North Pacific Expedition in 1896, his plans included Smith as the archaeologist who would investigate the prehistoric remains of the people living in the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America.

Boas's vision for the Jesup North Pacific Expedition was to investigate the historical, physical and cultural relationship between the people living in northeastern Asia and the Northwest Coast of North America. In Boas's first published summary of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition , he presented his broad questions for studying the historical, physical and cultural connections between these cultures. Boas stated that although a unique "race" of Native people living in North America could be observed, there were many distinct "types" of people within that race, given differences in skin colour, form of head and face, and body proportion. He noted many similarities in type between those people living in northeast Asia to the people living in the Northwest Coast of North America. He proposed that while this variability in "type of man" indicted "long-continued development by differentiation" of physical type and of cultures, the similarities between these peoples must be carefully explained by ethnological, archaeological and linguistic evidence:


What relation these tribes bear to each other, and particularly what influence the inhabitants of one continent may have exerted on those of the other, are problems of great magnitude. Their solution must be attempted by a careful study of the natives of the coast, past and present, with view of discovering so much of their history as may be possible.

While incidental archaeological investigations would be made in northeast Asia by Gerald Fowke and Fillip Jochelson, major research would be conducted in North America by Harlan I. Smith. Smith's work would be a key component for uncovering the history of these connections, both through the examination of "physical type" represented in skeletons uncovered from graves, and through the artifacts which represent the cultures of the people who left them behind. Smith was additionally charged with making extensive photographic records of the communities he visited, and with making plaster cast and photograph sets of the "physical types" represented in the North American regions being studied by the Jesup Expedition.

Boas felt that archaeological, linguistic and ethnological studies would provide a detailed comparative picture from which they could:

...reveal the effects of intermixture, linguistic borrowing, and exchange of cultural forms. By following out patiently and in detail the lines of interchange of culture, it is possible to trace the historical development of the tribes inhabiting a definite region.

Boas set out his priority areas for ethnological and linguistic research in those places not already extensively studied and reported on by other contemporary scholars. Smith's archaeological research was to be "carried on in the whole region". Thus, as shown by the map of Smith's work in Figure 1, Smith visited many of the Native communities studied by the North American contingency of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Boas placed particular emphasis on the archaeology of the coast and interior Salish people living in British Columbia and Washington State. Several years before the expedition, Boas had some correspondence with Charles Hill-Tout, a local ethnographer and archaeologist who had found skulls in the shell middens and burial mounds of the lower Fraser River delta which were, he claimed, significantly different that the "type" found among people living in these areas today. If indeed there were two "types", such evidence was what Boas needed to understand the long-term historical "intermixture, linguistic borrowing, and exchange of cultural forms" between the people in the North Pacific Rim.

In May of 1897, at age 25, Harlan I. Smith accompanied Franz Boas and Livingston Ferrand into the field to the interior of British Columbia.

Smith's Jesup North Pacific Expedition Fieldwork, 1897

Spences Bridge

Smith set out from New York on the Northern Pacific rail road, arriving in Spences Bridge on June 2, 1897. Smith, Boas and Farrand met up with James Teit in Spences Bridge and worked for five days making collections from archaeological sites in the area, and taking photographs and plaster casts of Native people from the Spences Bridge area. Teit, a non-Native who married into the Nlaka'pamux [Thompson] community, worked with Smith in explaining the process of photography and casting to community members, who were otherwise reluctant to take part . Teit was also very familiar with archaeological sites in the area, collecting with Smith at several sites along the banks of the Thompson River which he collected at. Smith made his early thoughts and expectations of his field results clear in a letter he sent to Marshall Saville, his colleague in the archaeology department at the American Museum of Natural History:

I like this region very much. It makes one feel like a man; as if one had a right to live and be free & equal to his fellow men. It strikes me as a bustling region where work is to be had by all who really desire to work. The air is clear cool & rich & puts new life into a fellow... I have seen a number of Indians and last eve found a village which I had not been told of and had a pleasant time looking at canoes & talking with natives... I very much hope to make a big collection and fill my notebooks so that next winter I will have a good time working up the results with you.

Smith must have hoped his enthusiasm for the work ahead would off-set some of the concerns his colleagues had about his condition. Smith was not at the best of health when they went into the field. Boas wrote to his wife only 11 days later that:

I am really worried about him because he does not look well and coughs all the time. The other night when we took down the songs he had a fever and was not feeling well at all. The climate here is good for him. I hope he will get rid of the cough! It is dry, warm and not too high.

Boas, Farrand and Teit left Smith in the Thompson and Fraser River area of British Columbia to move on to the Chilcotin and Bella Coola regions. Smith made moderate archaeological collections from the area, but did not satisfy his initial desire to make a large collection in the vicinity of Spences Bridge. After about 10 days, he moved his work up the Thompson River to Kamloops, where it was thought more profitable excavations could proceed.


In Kamloops, Smith met up with Father Jean-Marie Raphael Le Jeune, a local minister who had an extensive knowledge of the Secpemwec language. Boas had already arranged for the expedition to meet with Le Jeune, seeking his assistance to explain the procedure of making plaster casts. Smith obtained the photographs and casts of seven people from the area. Upon completing his work documenting the physical type of these people, Smith began his archaeological excavations at a number of sites on the bank of the Thompson River. Smith quickly ran into opposition as he began to unearth human remains (see Figure 2):

Indians here object to my taking bones away - They are friendly & will allow me to dig graves & take all but the bones. I have seen [Indian] Agent and Indians are on the fence. We hope they will change their minds & allow bones to go to N.Y. for study not for joke as they fear.

Through the assistance of Father Le Jeune, who was able to explain the purpose of Smith's research to the Secpemwec people in their own language, Smith received the support of the community for his work. It would seem from a letter Smith wrote to Saville that their main concern was over the respect their ancestors would be treated with:

...they, after holding a big council where my side was presented by the Priest [Le Jeune] telling them I came to get things to use to teach to people in N.Y., decided to let me have a few bones to teach with, but I must cover up all I did not take as so no bad white men would take them to make fun of the Indians.

Although Le Jeune's role in convincing the community the validity of the work was vital, this was in fact not revealed in a subsequent publication about the work:

The Indians do not know to what people these burials belong, but they do not like to see the bones of what may have been their ancestors, disturbed. For this reason the chief called a council in which the subject was very fully discussed. Finally the confidence of the people was gained by the help of a number of photographs of the museum, in which it was shown how the people visited the halls in order to see the wonderful works of the Indians, and how they were instructed, by means of lectures, in regard to the meaning of all these objects, and from that time on they rather helped than resisted any endeavour to obtain collections.

Following this meeting, Smith was able to work intensively through the month of June, making a substantial collection of human remains and artifacts from the Kamloops area (reported in Smith 1900a). Smith sent the collections back to New York by train, before moving his work on to Lytton, a town at the confluence of the Thompson and Fraser Rivers.


Smith camped on the side of the Fraser Canyon near Lytton, and worked on a number of archaeological sites which were exposed by erosion. At this place he was joined by Charles Hill-Tout, a local ethnographer who had conducted several years of research for the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and John Oakes, the brother of Smith's fiance. Several weeks in July were spent in Lytton collecting from these exposed sites and photographing pictograph sites in the Stein River valley, all of which he reported on in his first Jesup Expedition monograph. Smith used his "little knowledge of the Chinook language" to get permission to make archaeological collections and to make contacts with people from whom he could collect ethnological materials. Smith photographed two young babies from Lytton, and the remains of some recently abandoned pithouses. As he writes to Saville, he began to make substantial collections in a very short period of time:

Last night we worked until midnight carrying to the depot at Lytton - (there is no wagon road) on our backs the 11 boxes of specimens I secured during the 6 preceding days. How is that for one week, eleven boxes? ... This is a glorious country. One feels so well he can work hard and not notice it any more than play. Saturday I crossed the rapids and climbed up a mountain - and got 6 cradles and a stone pestle and raw material of which pipes are made and with the help of my man carried all that load many miles back over the river in a boat, washed mile down stream by the rapids and in time to carry our 11 boxes of specimens to the depot. At any rate I mean to make so big a collection that it will be my time to catalogue and arrange it or break my leg trying.

In the 11 boxes he packed several skeletons from graves which he photographed. Smith parted with Oakes and Hill-Tout at the end of July to head north to the Skeena River where he would meet again with Boas.

North Coast of B.C.

Smith went down the Fraser to Victoria and then up the coast by steamer to the Skeena River, and met with Boas on August 11th. Of course there is no correspondence from Smith to Boas from this period, and no published reports by Smith. Boas, however, does discuss Smith's work on the Coast between the Skeena River and Fort Rupert at the time in several letters and publications. Smith's photograph catalogue shows that considerable time was spent with Boas in Prince Rupert photographing the art work and physical appearance of the Haida and Tsimshian people who came to the town. Very few of these photographs made it into any published works of the Jesup Expedition.

Smith then moved down to the village of Bella Bella to work with Livingston Farrand for some time assisting him with making casts and photographs of Heiltsuk [Bella Bella] people and several views of an old house. Boas and George Hunt met Smith and Farrand at Bella Bella, and moved on shortly thereafter to Fort Rupert in order that Boas could continue his work with the Kwak'waka'wakw [Kwakiutl]. Again, Smith was engaged in photographing and making casts of people in the communities at Alert Bay and Rivers Inlet. By the end of August, Smith took his leave from Fort Rupert to travel to the Fraser River to continue his archaeological research. It is interesting to note that Boas was not himself interested in archaeological research and conducted very little of it during his career. This may have been a factor of why Smith was involved in so little archaeological research when he was with Boas on the North Coast.

Smith's enthusiasm for making large archaeological collections in other areas of British Columbia become more clear from Boas's correspondence with his family during the time he spent with Smith on the north coast. Boas wrote to his wife upon Smith's arrival on the Skeena that Smith had been thinking of getting married in the fall and was concerned over his financial security:

I have some news for you which will be a surprise. The night before last Smith came to me and told me that he wanted to do something which I would think was very stupid. He wants to get married on the way back. He thinks he could live with a wife on $60 a month. He wanted to know my opinion. Still waters run deep! He said he had thought over everything carefully and that he has been engaged for many years and now he wants to get married. I told him what difficulties he would have living on such a small amount and that his chances for a major raise were very slim. I told him I could not argue with him, that I could only warn him of all the problems he would have, but that I was convinced he would do whatever he wanted anyway. He asks whether you think that he could make ends meet. I don't think you should tell Mother about it because he does not want to make the matter public before he decides what to do.

Boas's impression of Smith's financial situation caused Smith some concern. Smith quickly wrote letters to Putnam, the head of the department of Anthropology at the American Museum, and to Winser, the manager of accounts, regarding his concerns over finances - letters which Boas told his wife, were most tactless:

Yesterday I wrote a long letter to Putnam on behalf of Smith. Smith wrote him that he wants to get married, and Putnam is very much worried about it. One cannot give Smith advice because he is going to do whatever he wants to do. Putnam told me about a letter Smith had written to Winser. I wish Smith would learn certain things, especially to hold his tongue with respect to some people. I don't know but I have doubts that he will ever amount to anything. His education has many gaps, and it will always be apparent because he does not have the mind to spur him on and help him try to fill the gaps. He likes mostly activity which he can do with his hands. He is clever and resourceful, etc., but where theoretical work is involved, he lags behind. His attitude in all possible fields is very naïve, and frequently the questions he asks are unbelievably simple. I often tell him to think it over himself and then give me the answers to his own questions. On the other hand he is such a nice fellow that I really feel sorry for him. Well maybe he will succeed yet. He is only twenty-five years old. But if he really should get married with an income of not over $60, I don't know what will become of him.

After working for the month of August with Boas making casts and taking photographs on the North Coast, Boas wrote a final note to his wife about Smith's situation:

Yesterday the Princess Louise [a vessel which carried passengers up and down the coast of Vancouver Island] arrived, and Smith promptly made ready and went aboard. Last night we had an earnest conversation in which I urgently advised him to wait with his marriage. I told him he would get more money after January, I am almost certain. I also told him that I thought it was dangerous to get married on $60. I could see that all the time he talked with me, he was thinking about his letter to Putnam. I told him not to be so reluctant to talk his affairs over with me... The last thing he said when we took leave of each other was that he did not know how to talk freely about his affairs, since it was not his nature to do so. I will write my mother about it again. I wish I could force him to open up. I am not a talker myself, but such isolation must be awful! It is not easy for me to talk like a father to him, since we were always good comrades. I should be surprised if he accepted my advice. I hope he will be good in his future work. I wanted him away from here because there was not much for him to do, and every day during this season counts for his work. I only hope that Putnam won't ask Jesup to leave Smith here over the winter. I spoke out against this and would never permit it because... I think he could stay here until December but no longer.

Boas's uncertainty about the possibility of Smith and his wife living on $60 a month must have deepened Smith's anxiety about making large, good quality collections to satisfy the patrons of the American Museum of Natural History. Boas was much less concerned with the size of Smith's collections than he was getting a broad picture of the archaeology of British Columbia and Washington. The letters Smith wrote to Boas during the rest of the year, often brought up his concerns about the size of the collections he was making. The thought of his possible financial insecurity made Smith want to concentrate his excavations in productive areas like the lower Fraser River, and distracted him to a certain degree from pursuing the broad research Boas that had set out for him.

Port Hammond

Smith arrived on the lower Fraser River on September 2 and took room and board near the large shell heap at Port Hammond. Here Smith conducted extensive excavations until the end of October. Smith's work on the lower Fraser River was preceded by the investigations of Charles Hill-Tout, who had investigated archaeological remains in the area for several years. Hill-Tout had previously sent Boas descriptions of unusual skulls which he had obtained from archaeological sites in the lower Fraser River area. These skulls were long and broadly shaped, and were thought by Boas and Hill-Tout to represent the remains of an earlier group of people, as the present-day Native population of the lower Fraser River had a broader, wider skull. The problem of the age and distribution of this type of skull was one of the main questions Smith needed to address by his investigations. If indeed there were two different "types" of skulls represented archaeologically in the lower Fraser River region, then Boas's linguistic hypothesis of a recent Salish movement into the area of the coast from the interior would be confirmed.

The findings of Smith's excavations at Port Hammond are well described in a number of Smith's publications. Smith's archaeological work focused on recovering human remains - skulls in particular - and on making collections of the artifacts from the shell heap. In much of his correspondence with Boas about the archaeological work, Smith reported on day-to-day finds, and his concerns regarding the packing and shipping of this material to New York. During these first excavations at a lower Fraser River shell midden, he noted the similarity of the skulls and art found in the shell heap to those of the present day people living on the lower Fraser River , and felt that he had to excavate deeper to get to the more ancient type of people represented by the long and narrow-shaped skull collected by Hill-Tout.

Excavations in the shell heap at Port Hammond did not reveal as many artifacts or skeletal remains as Smith's findings in Kamloops and Lytton. At the end of his first week of excavation, Smith wrote a number of concerned letters to Boas were he expressed disappointment in the quantity of finds from the site:

Got a child below undisturbed shell heap today. The skull was not there. Several bone implements constitute our day's finds. I shall photo a cross section tomorrow. I am a little disappointed in results here. The field looks very rich from the surface and we may yet make a strike. I hope those at N.Y. will not expect too much from this place for I fear they will be disappointed if they do.

Smith received a swift reply from Boas, now in New York, who again reminded him the "scientific" objectives of this research. Smith replied to Boas the day he received his letter:

I will try to do the scientific work as you desire in the shell mounds and overcome my fear of not securing sufficient specimens to please the persons at the museum who look for such eagerly.

After giving the matter some further consideration that night, Smith wrote a follow-up note to Boas regarding his insecurities about his situation:

I fear you think I act very strangely at times and I guess I do. I know I have still a trace of the effects of being in father's office during the time everything went to the dogs. It made me have fear of being able to earn a living, fear of being cheated, fear of everything & everybody which was often without the slightest reason and while I could & can reason that there is no sense in such fears I can not even yet escape them. At times they so upset my nerves that I hardly know what I do. I never have been able to escape the fear of losing my situation. I suppose it is all due to seeing everything father had swept away and knowing he was a powerful man compared with me showed me how helpless I was. And at the same time it made me dependent on myself while before I had no knowledge of what that was. I think this accounts for some of my doings that seem strange.

Smith continued to work as if walking on egg-shells over the next several weeks. He asked in cautious notes to Boas what other museum staff, including Mr. Jesup, thought of him. He looked for advice on whether he should try to write newspaper articles for the McClure Syndicate about the expedition, and reassured Boas that he would address the research questions at hand:

I think to get at questions we need deeper shell heaps, but do not care to leave here until we have a more complete collection and hance knowledge of this place, unless you so desire. Kindly let me know.

In addition to his insecurities about his being able to produce satisfactory results for the American Museum, Smith was made aware of another situation which had the potential of impeding his field work. In his first week at Hammond, Smith read in the local papers that two collectors from the Field Museum, George Dorsey and Edward Allen, were arrested and subsequently released in Oregon for grave robbing. Only a week later, Smith was visited by the Indian Agent from Westminster to discuss the same topic. Smith reported to Boas that:

...he [the Indian Agent] said that every Indian Agent here had received notice that there was a liability of parties digging in Indian grave yards and to look out for them as it was against the law. Also he had received a second circular giving him direction to warn the Indians & tell them the law on the subject.

Smith contacted British Columbia's superintendent of Indian Affairs, A. W. Vowell, to thank him for some collections he had sent to the American Museum in New York. Smith also enquired at this time about the Indian Agent's warning about grave robbing. Vowell replied that these letters were not directed against Smith's work, but rather were to inform local native people about non-Natives who were digging up their grave yards so that the land could be pre-empted for settlement. This reply eased Smith's concerns for collecting human remains, so he continued his work in the shell heaps.

The weather did not permit Smith to continue his excavations at Port Hammond completely uninterrupted. On rainy days he made his own contacts in the Katzie and Musqueam communities on the lower Fraser River in order to photograph, cast and collect ethnographic objects from the people there. Unlike his experiences with Teit, Le Jeune and Hunt, Smith did not already have prior contacts with these native communities. Regardless, members of the Katzie community near Port Hammond offered Smith the opportunity to purchase a mountain-goat wool blanket; woven hats; a sxwayxwey mask; canoes; spindle whorls; rush mats; and other utilitarian items. Following his cautious program, Smith did not purchase any of these objects, as he wished Boas to give him direction on such acquisitions first. However, Smith was offered one of the beautiful mountain-goat wool blankets for $10 on September 15th and purchased it on his way back to New York on November 4th for $6.

Smith was less cautious when it came to trying to obtaining photographs and casts of the people living on the Fraser River. He initially tried to do some photography and casting of Native people at the prison in New Westminster, but was declined his request. Smith spent a number of days during rainy October urging people in the Katzie community to be photographed and casted - offering $1.00 for each cast - but only Archille James, a 19 year old boy from Katzie would do it (see Figure 3). By the end of his 1897 field season he was unable to get any other person from the Coast Salish communities in Victoria or the lower Fraser River to get involved in this kind of work:

I could not get a single Songish at Victoria, nor can I get any here [at Port Hammond] to submit to be cast... All these lower Frazier [sic] people seem to object to casting - I must try here again next season when I work at the Great Frazier [sic] Midden.


On October 22 Smith shipped crates of his work from Port Hammond to New York and left the lower Fraser River for Victoria. Upon arrival in Victoria, Smith met Mr. Oregon C. Hastings, a local resident who had worked with Boas in Fort Rupert in the past, was keenly interested in the archaeological sites of the area. The next day he and Hastings set out to examine some of the cairns at Cadboro Bay, four miles northeast of Victoria. In seven days, he had excavated 21 cairns. He was most disappointed to find that there was "only a speck of charcoal and a handful of bone dust" remaining in these cairns, largely because of the highly acidic coastal British Columbia soil. As the results of the cairn excavations were so disappointing, Smith and Hastings set to work at "the deepest shell heap I have seen" in Victoria at the Gorge, where again Smith was disappointed at the scarcity of finds.

With such poor results in excavation, Smith followed up some leads he had on doing some ethnological collecting. He visited a small island in Esquimalt Harbour where he was offered to purchase a drum used in winter dancing for $1 and a house post for $12. When he returned from the island village, he commented that he saw "shell heaps in the process of formation". In Victoria he also met four men and three women, none of whom he names, from Kaiuquot/Kyuquot [sic] who were visiting from the West Coast of Vancouver Island and were willing to be paid $1 to have casts made and photos taken.

On November 10th, Smith boarded the train, stopping at Port Hammond before leaving for the East Coast. He had arranged to have a small wedding to Helena Oakes on November 25th in Saginaw Michigan and then return to New York to work on organizing and writing up the 1897 material.

Boas summarized Smith's first season of work in the first American Museum of Natural History memoir to come out of the Jesup Expedition. Boas noted Smith's important contribution in examining the shell middens of the lower Fraser River:

...clearing up interesting points in the history of the Indians. It seems that the physical appearance of the Indians during the period of deposit of the shell-mounds on the lower Fraser River had undergone material changes. The results that were here obtained are so important, that it will be necessary to continue the researchers during the coming year.

Smith's Jesup North Pacific Expedition Fieldwork, 1898

Smith's second season in the field, from April to September 1898, continued his investigation of archaeological sites, photographing, casting and collecting ethnological artifacts. He spent a great deal more time and energy this season collecting ethnological materials from the communities he worked in, with less time photographing and making casts for the study of physical anthropology. Smith's new wife Helena, joined him in the field and drew a number of sketches in his correspondence to Boas. She also made a number of contacts in the Native communities they were working in which helped Smith in his work. With Smith's marriage to Helena, and it being his second field season with the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, he showed a new confidence and enthusiasm for the research. His letters from this season generally discuss in more detail his relations with local Native communities and his archaeological observations much less tentative. However, as will be shown from his correspondence, Boas remained highly influential on Smith's work.


Smith left New York on April 13th by rail road via of Ottawa to British Columbia. In Ottawa, he spent two days sketching and making notes on the collections in the Geological Survey of Canada, under the care of George Dawson. On the 21st of April he arrived in Kamloops to examine and collect archaeological materials which had been exposed by the wind over the past year.

At Kamloops, Smith met a young girl working with a stone scraper on a hide. An excellent photograph of this encounter is published in the Ethnological Album of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition:

While at the village I saw a little girl scraping a skin with a stone hafted in a handle about 3 ft long similar to the one Teit collected. Closer inspection showed 3 of these hafted scrapers, the skin stretched on a frame. I contemplate photographing her at work tomorrow and then buying the whole outfit for you as I think you will want it for a group. Fr. La Jeune thinks I can get it for $1.50 i.e. the skin so I suppose I can get skin & sticks from frame and scrapers entire for less than $5.00. If so I feel you will be glad of them. I know this is hardly in my line to collect Ethnology in this region but the thing seems too good to see go.

Smith felt this collection of photographs and deer hide scraping equipment would be useful for "the construction of an ethnic group; especially since we have the physical material collected at this place in '97". Smith also made several photographs of a woman digging roots and a "tepee"-like framed structure.

Spences Bridge

Smith left Kamloops after a week and moved to Spences Bridge where he again met with James Teit. Teit and Smith spent a number of days photographing "tepees", sweat houses and excavating in pithouses near Spences Bridge. During the previous winter, Smith had sent a number of photographs he had taken to Teit, who was to distribute them to the people who had been photographed. Not all the people photographed, however, received a copy and Teit was under some pressure to be sure that everybody received what had been taken of them. Smith wrote to Boas asking to send the remaining photos to alleviate the situation. Smith also asked Boas to send copies of the photographs taken of the pictographs at Lytton, as Teit agreed to ask some of the local people for explanations. After just over a week, Smith took his leave of Teit and Spences Bridge and headed down the Fraser River to Vancouver, where he set out to explore the large shell heap at Eburne commonly known as the "Great Fraser Midden".


Smith began his archaeological excavations at the Great Fraser Midden on May 2nd. He had three men work with him in the field; Mr. O. C. Hastings, Mr. Hindshaw and Mr. Roland B. Dixon, all of Vancouver. The Great Fraser Midden produced a large number of human remains and artifacts from deeply stratified deposits. The finds from these excavations are well reported in Smith's monograph "Shell-Heaps of the Fraser River".

This season, Smith was more determined than ever to find out the relationship between the long and broad skulls that both he and Hill-Tout had found in previous seasons. Boas had clearly convinced him the importance of these skulls to the overall research questions of the Jesup Expedition. Smith believed that working by at the Great Fraser Midden, where Hill-Tout had reportedly found his original long-shaped skull, he would be able to provide answers to this question. However, soon after Smith began his excavations, he became aware there may not have been only two types:

Everything is going well. We find two distinct types of skulls and it seems also that we find every conceivable intermediate form. In fact as Hastings well expresses it, we get no two alike.

In a later letter he reaffirmed this observation:

I wrote to you of the Hammond type of skull and the long type. By long type I meant the type represented by the Hill-Tout skull. I don't know how many I have of them but at least 6 in good condition and some broken. There seem to be intermediate forms. I feel all mixed up about them as they are so different. There may be 3 or 4 types so far as I can see hastily... The two types seem to be buried alike i.e. with equal care and some of each are deep down, others are high up.

By the time the publications of the Jesup Expedition came out, Smith's field sense of the different kinds of skulls represented were over-ridden by Boas's own interpretation of the human remains. Neither Smith nor Boas report on the uncertainties he had in the field about the number of different types of skulls present in the shell heap. They do, however, both report that there are two types of skulls found in the shell heaps - one narrow and the other broad, both of which are cranially deformed. With hindsight, this is a highly significant interpretation for the Jesup Expedition. If Smith's field observations (that there were not two distinct types of skulls, but rather many forms in between) had been taken seriously by Boas, Boas's long-lasting, but misguided interpretation of the Salish being relatively recent arrivals in the area may have been reconsidered. Regardless, Boas's insights were a powerful force for the Jesup Expedition, whether they were correct or not.

An other important aspect of Smith's stay at Eburne is the work he did among the Musqueam community at the mouth of the Fraser River. Smith visited the Musqueam Reserve on a rainy May day, looking to purchase ethnological materials for the museum. A man offered to sell him a "whewhe" [sxwayxwey] mask for $10, a horn rattle [syiwméxwtses] for $10 and an entire shaman's outfit for $100. The outfit was too expensive for him by far, and he decided to wait before buying the mask, hoping the man would come down in price.

I have not yet bought the mask for $10.00 or the horn rattle for $10.00. I expect to get the mask in the fall and hope to get it cheaper by delay. Do you want the rattle at $10.00? It seems to be fine, has goat wool fringe, carving of human head on handle, and the rattle part is carved in their own art. There was at least 6 of the masks all the same in the Delta. The shamans outfit consists simply of mask & feather attachments. I do not think you would care for it at $100.00 and I think you would prefer the $10.00 mask & $10.00 horn rattle to it even if they were equal in cost. I have worked my best to get things from them. Hastings has also. I sent you a list of what we got. Yet I hope to get more later. I have not all there is to get & want to bring you a complete lot from the Fraser Delta. What are shell rattles worth? Several of this kind of shell [sketch of a large pacific scallop shell] are strung on a hoop. Will make every effort to get all kinds of baskets & uses.

This was an interesting, but difficult time for Native people of the Northwest Coast. The Canadian government's laws banning the potlatch and winter dancing were in full effect. Missionaries and priests were collecting and burning ceremonial regalia, and Native children were being separated from their families and being sent to residential school. Many of the spiritual activities had to be conducted underground. A shaman's outfit like the one offered to Smith was clearly a powerful and important ritual object at the time, and was not going to be parted with for some small sum of money.

Smith did obtain a house post from "Chief Nuxwhailak", who accepted only $10 for it and said that the pole was "part gift to museum" because the museum was going to use it for "educational purposes" (see Figure 4). They received the post on the condition that it was to be labelled "from house of Kaplänux, grandfather of present Chief Nuxwhailak from whom it was obtained". Smith attempted to document the meanings associated with this post, "as well as they could give them", but he was disappointed by the report given by Chief Nuxwhailak:

The man figure they say is simply an ornament or a carving made to be a carving & has no meaning. They don't seem to know as much of the old times as we wish they did.

Had Smith learned to take down accounts in the Halkomelem language, or had he had the assistance of someone like James Teit or George Hunt with him in the Musqueam community, he may not have been so "disappointed".

Smith tried to collect other posts which he photographed at Musqueam during his stay at Eburne. He used his technique of showing community members pictures of the American Museum's halls explaining that if the poles were moved there, they would be kept out of the rain and weather. However, he was not able to purchase any of the others that he photographed, as the people from Musqueam "would not sell others at any price except one for which they wanted $100.00 and it was some broken [sic]."

Fort Rupert

After spending his last few days visiting sites in the Boundary Bay area of Vancouver, Smith travelled up the coast to Fort Rupert to work with George Hunt. With the assistance of Hunt, Smith was again able to arrange the taking of casts and photographs of a number of men from the community at Fort Rupert, although no women would take part. In addition to the usual array of profiles and poses intended to capture the physical type of the people, Smith took photos at a Fort Rupert potlatch , during gambling , at a woman's potlatch , of several house posts and totem poles , coppers fastened to trees , and series of "unposed photos" of an old man "clothed in a blanket sharpening a stone adze".

Smith began his archaeological investigations by excavating at a number of shell heaps in the area. He continued to be puzzled by the different excavation results in middens from various areas of the coast. In these middens he found very few artifacts, and no human remains - a situation very different from the numerous finds in the shell heaps on the lower Fraser River. In a letter which he intended to be kept as a portion of his field notes, Smith anticipated the need for further careful and thorough investigations necessary to make meaningful interpretations of the archaeological record:

I learn of a new shell heap in every direction almost daily and at best can only hope to see a few of them this year, for were I to visit them all I would have no time to dig in any of them. I have to chose a few locations and work in them to get an idea of the different regions from the few typical representatives... Some shell heaps but a short distance from others present such different characteristics that I feel they may belong to different peoples or be summer residences fishing stations or the like of the same people. To determine all these matters will require considerable further investigation and if that produces as much variety it will again extend the investigation.

Smith's concerns had moved from collecting a large quantity of samples to please the patrons of the Museum, to collecting adequate samples to make careful interpretations of each site. These difficulties in interpretation were a problem for Boas, who was seeking to get a broad idea of the historical, cultural and physical relationships of the Native people of the North Pacific Rim. If archaeology was to provide answers to these questions during the Jesup Expedition, investigations would have to be made over the whole region. However, Boas did not seem to appreciate some of the difficulties in interpreting the past through archaeology. If Smith was to follow up his concerns for the careful interpreting the remains from each individual sites, he would not be able to excavate at so many of them. This, in turn, would leave many relationships uninvestigated. Again, however, Boas's leadership in the research pushed Smith on in spite of his reservations.

Although the archaeological investigations in Fort Rupert did not reveal many human remains, Smith was very successful in collecting from more recent graves in tree burials and rock shelters. At the end of the first week in Fort Rupert, Smith wrote to Boas:

We have secured five complete skeletons and three skulls from tree and box burials. George Hunt got permission to take these bones. We are doing it secretly however, leaving no traces behind us and will use the permission to cover a possible detection.

Smith later wrote to Boas that although he had permission from Hunt to take these skeletons he "thought what the Indians did not know about it would not hurt them". By the end of Smith's stay in Fort Rupert, thirty two skulls were obtained from tree, box and cave burials, in addition to collecting several painted boards and boxes from these graves.

While working in the Fort Rupert area, Harlan and Helena Smith camped on the shell-heap near the home of George Hunt's sisters Sarah and Jane. Smith was delighted by the hospitality of the Hunt family, who often visited bringing fresh food and gifts. Although Smith may have enjoyed the company of the Hunt family, they came to have very different feelings about him and Helena. Later that winter George Hunt received the brunt of enormous family and community resentment about the Smith's stay in Fort Rupert. He wrote about these problems to Boas:

Now there is one thing that I am sorry to let you know what Mrs. H. I. Smith Done for me and I think for you to now the knight there arrived here. I went and Beged my two sisters Sarah and Jane to let them Have a Room for the night for Mr. Smith was my friend, so they did give Mr. and Mrs. Smith one of there Rooms in the House free of charges and after that, my sisters was kind enough to let them have Empty cases free of charges and Even Help me in sending the Indians to him to have there casts taken and after Mr. Smith left Fort Rupert he left all his traps in the care of my sister and the thank my sister got from her, or Mrs. Smith. She went to Victoria put something against my sisters, on the newspapers. The it was enough to make Mr. Spencer and wife and all my sisters would not speak to me Ever since they Read the paper of what Mrs. Smith say about them, and Even signed by her. It seems to me that Mrs. Smith asked Sarah and Jane to let her have one each of these photographs, so my sisters did have her that is to Mrs. Smith one Each of these photos, and on the second paper she let the reporters scratch the two pictures and put them into the news paper and the names she called them there I am shame to talk about, so my sisters got that wild about things that they went and Report to the Indians what Mr. Smith done to there Daid and that I was helping them, and the Indians, said that they will never let Mr. Smith come to Fort Rupert again to still there grave again. Now I let Mr. Smith have David Boat, that cost David $25.00 Dollars, and after it was returned, the keel was all worn away, leeking like a basket for the Bottom was nearly worn through. Yet I am pleased for the things that I got from Mr. Smith.

Upon hearing of this news in a letter from George Hunt later in the fall, Boas responded in defence of Smith and the work of the Jesup Expedition:

Now about the Smiths. I simply cannot understand the things you are talking about. All the letters that I received from Smith and Mrs. Smith while they were in British Columbia were just full of praise of your sisters and you mother, and every time they talk about British Columbia, they say how kindly all of you treated them; in fact, they are taking every opportunity to express how much they are indebted to all of you. I am quite certain that neither he nor she would willingly hurt the feelings of any of your people. I suppose the whole trouble lies with the meddlesome and nasty newspaper writers. You do not know how they are bothering us all the time, and how every thing they learn is twisted about in the paper so as to make it look exciting to the people. I suppose you remember the nasty figures and the horrible description of the dance that was in one of the newspapers, said to be written by me, but which was simply made up, and stolen out of my book. You may be quite sure that the same thing happened to the Smiths.

Smith was unaware of any community controversy when he was in the field that year. This episode shows the tenuous relationship Smith had with the communities he worked in. Even at a place like Fort Rupert, where he had a good rapport with George Hunt, Smith was never completely conscious about the long-term results of his research in the community he worked in. In places like Kamloops, Fort Rupert and later Lillooet, Smith's collection of human remains left the people who's culture he was studying unsettled, and possibly even at risk with their spiritual relationships with the dead. Although Smith did continue to work with Hunt for several more weeks on northern Vancouver Island, he did not go on to work with him the following year.

Nimpkish River, Alert Bay & Comox

Smith continued to work on the northern end of Vancouver Island through the months of July and August in the area around the Nimpkish River, Alert Bay and Comox. Much of his time was spent in archaeological excavations of the shell heaps of this area. The results of these archaeological investigations are well reported in Smith's "Archaeology of the Gulf of Georgia and Puget Sound". Smith's concern over methodological bias in his interpretation of the archaeological material continued:

I feel that our finds may not in all cases be correlated with the real losses of these people, but are more or less influenced by our luck, consequently we have to do a great deal [of excavation] and get much in order to eliminate, as far as possible, the luck equation.

Smith's "luck" in the shell heaps did not include finding many human remains. To compensate this apparent lack, he and Hunt continued to collect more recent burials from grave boxes found in trees. Smith and Hunt did consult with members of the Comox community in collecting from a grave site, with one member willing to sell a grave post for $14.

Smith and Hunt were very active in collecting additional "ethnological specimens" for the museum. While working in the Nimpkish River area, Smith was given a large "grease pole", that served as a fountain for fish grease in feasts. Fish oil was poured into the back of the head of a human figure carved into the pole, and came out of it's mouth. While in Comox, Smith and Hunt were able to acquire a "Xoaexoe" [sxwayxwey] mask, a collections of baskets and eleven carved posts. Smith reported that the mask was one of two in the area and was purchased for $12.00 from a man from Comox. Smith had realized the significance of this kind of mask while working on the Fraser River and was pleased that he and Hunt could collect one from the people at Comox. The carved posts he collected included several grave markers and some house posts which were standing inside of an old longhouse (see Figure 5). Smith made some detailed notes on these posts in his correspondence with Boas:

I have tried to get posts that were made by Comox people, but I fear northern artists were employed and that northern art shows in some of them. You will be pleased to learn that I secured a story of a flood as an explanation of four of the posts. One post (A) represents a man who made a very long rope of cedar bark. At the time of the flood he took his family, friends, and some animals in his canoe, which he tied to the top of a high mountain by means of this rope. One post (C) represents his friends, another (D) (having a copper carved on it) his wealth, etc, a fourth (E) represents a beaver, perhaps a totem or perhaps simply a tame animal and another friend who represents the carrying aboard of children, etc. There are two more poles of the house to be had for $10.00 each, but as they are exact duplicates of two of these, I left them. One post (F) that was gone represented a bird and other men. I hope to learn more about these and settle a few points, them I will have the full story to go with the poles which, as you say, makes them ten times as valuable. I give a rough plan of the ruins of the house.

' above a letter signifies one I got.

o above a letter signifies one I left.

x above a letter signifies one that was gone.

Dx Cx E' Dx C'

Bx A'

D' Cx Fx Do Co

B, now gone, was a figure of a person like A, but of lesser power. One of the posts from another house representing a dead man of influence, has a hole in the mouth through which a man spoke. I got all the information I could regarding each pole, but often I find the Indians do not know as well as I. One young woman told me the beaver was a man, but afterwards I found a more intelligent person.

This was one of the largest ethnological purchases Smith made during his work with the Jesup North Pacific Expedition. It took up a substantial amount of his disposable budget, which curtailed most further expenditures during this year. Before leaving Comox, Smith visited Denman Island where he observed a shell midden in the process of creation. His photograph catalogue reads:

The origin of a shell heap, clam shell thrown away after a meal - the fire, the stones, and the sea weed to told in steam - all left on beach by a travelling party of Indians.

Nanaimo and Duncan

During the last week of August, Smith made his way down the east coast of Vancouver Island from Comox to Victoria. Smith stopped in the communities of Nanaimo and Duncan, where there were large Indian Reserves. Smith located shell heaps in both areas, but determined that "it would be best to devote our remaining time and money elsewhere". At the mouth of the Chase River in Nanaimo, Smith visited a highly prominent site containing many petroglyphs. Smith originally wished to quarry the sandstone at this site to send the rock art back to New York, but thought the expense of shipping would be too much. He photographed them fairly extensively, and made a plaster cast of one of them for the museum. In Duncan, Smith located a shell heap on one of the Indian Reserves, but was not permitted to do any excavation in them. He continued to look for house posts in all four villages he visited, but did not find any. Feeling pressed for both time and money, and pressured by the reluctance of these Coast Salish communities to participate in his research, Smith continued on to Victoria.

North Saanich, Victoria

Smith arrived in Victoria on August 30 and had a fortuitous meeting with five Native people willing to take part in photographs and casting. Significantly again, these people were not of local Coast Salish ancestry, but were Nuu-chal-nulth [Nootka] from the west coast of Vancouver Island. Smith's continued efforts in the Straits Salish villages around Victoria revealed no one interested in taking part in photographs or casts.

For the rest of his week in the Victoria area, Smith and his crew did archaeological work at several sites in the North Saanich area. His main purpose was to explore the cairns which heard about from local residents. He also visited many local farmers who had collections of artifacts, making sketches of them to report on in his publications. He also spent some time drawing and making notes on the artifacts at the Provincial Museum in Victoria. Smith left one of his field assistants, Albert Argyle, to continue investigations in the area around North Saanich, where several shell heaps and twelve cairns were excavated.

Vancouver, Port Hammond

On Smith's return to Vancouver on the 7th of September, he discovered that the rates for shipping materials to New York had increased three times over what was offered to the Expedition the previous year. Smith had made plans to explore Puget Sound Washington and the Point Grey area in Vancouver, but cancelled these for lack of funds now taken up in shipping. He decided to use the last of his funds in the Vancouver area, visiting the Musqueam Reserve in order to collect the objects he had seen in the past summer:

Musqueam Indians doubled the price on the rattle making it $20.00 so I left it. Wanted $20.00 to be photographed at loom, as did also Duncan Indians - will try it again at Port Hammond. Offered $5.00 but thought $20.00 too much & need it for shell heap work. Told me 10 disks game on plate not used & did not know it or have it. It was lost long ago they said. Told me bear tooth game did not exist. Conclude the man with bear teeth meant by "he he" that he was fixing bear teeth for fun. I thought he meant for a game. I secured a blanket (Mt. Goat), made, $3.00. Cowitchin [sic] Indians would not sell loom but I saw how they were made. They would not show us how to weave as it took so long & much work & they wanted $20.00 to do it. I have tried, & with Hastings help, to get the pictures of weaving at every place we have been and went twice to Musqueam, several times in May and once yesterday. I conclude as I have spent so much for ethnology... [I] will use the money for shell heap work.

As was typical for Smith working in the Coast Salish communities, he collected nothing from Musqueam except a photograph of "cat tails from mats". Smith's last money for the season then spent excavating for a few days at Port Hammond. He visited the Katzie reserve where he had previously seen another Xoaexoe [sxwayxwey] mask, but again, was unable to purchase it. In the second week of September, Smith ended his field work and boarded the train for New York.

Smith's investigations over 1897 and 1898 generated a number of specific research questions that he wished to address by further archaeological work in shell heaps. These questions he posed to Boas in a letter written near the end of his field season:

Are the long skulls found elsewhere than at Eburne? Are they found at Hammond? Are the rich shell heaps, like those off Hammond and Eburne, which have a large proportion of black soil and specimens uncommon to the salt water places such as Boundary Bay, Victoria, Fort Rupert, Comox, etc, where the heaps consist mainly of shells and are barren of specimens except in the much near the top? What is the difference between these two sorts of shell heaps? Is the former type peculiar to rivers, or only to the Fraser, or is it common to a river where tribes could gather to catch fish then go away, let the grass grow to cover lost objects so they would not be again found and where they would loose in moving or discard before moving, where murders and lawlessness would be greater?

Smith's musings seem distant from the larger goals of the Jesup Expedition. The problems which faced Smith were those of understanding how the archaeological sites were formed, and what the different functions of the sites were. Smith's expenditures on ethnology and the increased rates for shipping made it very difficult for him to pursue Boas's broad vision at the end of 1898. Smith would get one more season under the Jesup North Pacific Expedition in which to address these questions.

Smith's Jesup North Pacific Expedition Fieldwork, 1899

During the field season of 1899, Smith continued his investigations at Kamloops, Puget Sound, Port Douglas, Lillooet, Eburne, North Saanich, Spences Bridge and Nicola Lake. Although his excavations in these areas are as well reported in his publications as those from his previous two field seasons, the archival record is not as complete. Because of this general lack of archival records for the early part of this field season, the following description is limited to very brief summaries of Smith's published material and what can be gleaned from the photograph record.


Smith left the New York in early May and arrived in Kamloops on May 16. He payed a brief visit to the sites he had previously collected from which continued to be uncovered by wind. Here he made several more collections of artifacts and skeletons from exposed deposits before moving on to Puget Sound.

Puget Sound

Like his archaeological work in areas of British Columbia, Smith conducted his research primarily by making surface collections at sites where artifacts and human remains were exposed; by visiting and describing existing collections of artifacts in museums and private collections; and by undertaking excavations at selected sites which appeared to be promising for collecting a great deal of material. Of the twenty-five locations Smith reported on in his 1907 publication, Smith only excavated at five sites in Marietta, Stanwood, New Dungeness, Port Williams, and Burton. W. H. Thacker, a resident of western Washington who worked with Smith in the Puget Sound region, conducted several excavations of shell heaps and burial cairns in the San Juan Islands.

Smith's photograph records show that he was able to obtain only a few photographs in these Coast Salish communities. This general lack of participation in photography and casting is consistent with that of other Coast Salish people who Smith visited. Smith also photographed a number of pictures of an old shed-roof house at Lummi, but did not collect any of the planks nor any of the eight carved house posts that were there. The barren results of the shell-heap work in Washington prompted Smith to return to British Columbia in late July, where he began his work in the Lillooet-Harrison Lake region.

Lillooet-Harrison Lake

It is from Smith's investigations in the Lillooet-Harrison Lake that we have a few letters from Boas to Smith in the field. It appears from these letters that the focus of this work was around the acquisition of skeletons, or specifically skulls. Boas felt that this area might provide important historical information about the link between Coastal and Interior people:

I did not expect you to confine yourself to skulls, but should have been glad to have had archaeological researches carried on also... You know the Lillooet region is one of those inland districts by way of which coast culture entered the interior, and for this reason it is particularly interesting from an historic point of view. It might be, for instance, that in prehistoric times the culture proved to be much purer interior culture then later on, or it might be that the culture was more closely affiliated to the coast culture than it is now. The Lillooet have adopted the social organization of the coast tribes, and many of their industries, as far north as the town of Lillooet, on Fraser River. At the same time they have many things in common with the tribes stretching from Columbia River through the Cascade Range, up to the Chilcotin Valley. It would be exceedingly interesting to obtain prehistoric skulls from this area.

Smith was successful beyond his expectations in collecting skulls from the area. However, his collections were not made under the best of circumstances:

When I began work in the Lillooet Valley I said "If I can only get two skulls I will be surprised and pleased" but in this regard I have succeeded beyond my hope. I have (16) sixteen more or less complete skeletons - all of them are so old that the Indians said I might dig. But with nearly all, evidences of white contact were found. Some were under rock piles but not well formed cairns. Nearly all the skulls are entire... By taking skeletons out on backs we got them out without Indians realizing the bulk & so free from objections. But when the Indians return from fishing it would not be pleasant to be here.

Although he was pleased about being able to make such a large collection of material, Smith felt somewhat concerned about "running some risks" for the Expedition:

I consider that no trouble will arise from my work up the Lillooet and yet as the work was done while only a few Indians were there, those who were absent and have since returned might object. Those that were present did not confront me much and I feel that I would rather let the matter be digested by them before taking up more extensive archaeological studies, which must, of necessity to careful work and preservation of specimens, be done more openly. The skeletons I collected there and at other places are evidence that I am not trying to get out of running some risks on small insurance.

Like the previous year in Fort Rupert, Smith left the leaders of this community with little to say about how their dead were treated, for the "broader goals" of the Expedition.

While Smith was reporting these quantities of human remains which were collected from Lillooet, Boas again became concerned that Smith should continue to pursue the larger questions of the Jesup Expedition by obtaining material from the entire region being investigated, not spending too much time at any one site. Boas wrote Smith suggesting that he return to Washington to further his investigations of the relationship between the Puget Sound shell heaps and those of the Fraser River:

It strikes me that you have spent very little time at Stanwood, considering the importance of getting information from a different region similar to Eburne. I wish you would consider if it would not be advisable, on your return from Nanaimo, to go back there once more, to continue your studies. I hope you are not too much influenced in your judgement by the number of specimens you find. I consider it of the very greatest importance to do as much as we can towards the solution of the problem of the distribution of the shell mounds of Eburne character and also of the distribution of cairns on the east and west sides of Puget Sound. Of course, I rely on your judgement in all these matters; but I wish to urge you not to feel too much influenced by the consideration of the number of specimens that you are going to send back. First of all, we want to understand the history and distribution of cultural forms. I hope you will consider this matter while you are working in the Lillooet region.

Although Boas was providing strong guidance to the direction the field work should take, he clearly felt more secure in Smith's judgement than he had in previous seasons. Smith advised Boas that a return to Stanwood would not have been profitable for the Expedition:

I fear I did not give you a clear idea of Stanwood. When the very 1st day I noticed the blackness of the shell heap I wrote you it was like Eburne. I referred to the blackness and to the fact that it was a delta. I now think the blackness due to surrounding delta soil instead of clean sand as in the sea beach shell heaps. There was nothing in the finds at Stanwood to suggest it to be more like Eburne than other places except the skulls, several of which were found. If, after you examine the skulls, we find that they resemble Eburne types or differ from types of which we have information; then by all means I think more data should be secured from Stanwood. If however the skulls are of no particular interest, then there is nothing that I know of to lead us to return to Stanwood more than to many other places.

In spite of Boas's desire to get more material from Puget Sound, Smith did not return to Stanwood to continue excavations there after he had completed his work at Lillooet. Instead, he followed his plans to return to North Saanich, via Eburne, to in order to continue his work on the cairns and shell heaps, which he stared in the previous season. Smith felt he could best address the questions of the Expedition through the thorough investigation of these previously explored sites.


Smith travelled down the Fraser River from the Lillooet-Harrison Lake area towards the end of August. He stopped for a day in Vancouver and returned to the Musqueam Reserve in an attempt to collect some of the house posts and spindle whorls he was unable to obtain the previous year. Although most of the objects from Musqueam were originally high priced, now the people at Musqueam were no longer interested in selling any of their objects to someone who was going to take it out of the country. Smith was not deterred:

At Eburne I got two carved posts for $15.00 each. They would not sell them last year but I brought photos of them. I considered that carvings from the Lower Fraser are very much to be desired. They would not sell them to New York even this year, but they sold them to an Eburne friend who turned them over to me for cost. The Indians who had the fine spindle whorl last year were not home so I had that trip for naught... Indians near Eburne have been told not to sell specimens to people who plan to take said specimens out of Canada.

It is doubtful that the people from Musqueam who sold their posts to Smith's Eburne friend were ever informed of their being removed from the country. Smith left Vancouver the next day to set up his camp in North Saanich.

North Saanich

Smith set up his excavations in North Saanich just before the end of August. He was very interested to continue excavations of the cairns which were first explored the previous year. Thirty cairns were excavated by him at five different locations in the North Saanich area. Smith also continued his excavations from the previous year at one of the large North Saanich shell heaps. While working here, Smith received word from Boas that his archaeological field work was to finish at the end of the current season so that material could be worked up back at the Museum:

My present idea is, that with all the material that you have in hand at the present time, it would be best for you to stay here next summer and write out what you have. I do not believe that it is a good plan to accumulate more material than we can actually manage. In that case, of course it would be best either to do the Lillooet work this year or to defer it until 1901. I wish you would be entirely guided in these matters by your judgement, on which I rely. I do not wish to interfere in any way with your plans, as I cannot judge from a distance what is best to do.

Smith agreed with Boas that the coming season would be best spent in New York:

I am glad that you feel that I ought to write up the material in hand. I am sure that I have much, to supplement notes, in my mind which will shrink and become confused with other matters if I delay writing it out too long. It might be well to write out the matter in shape for publication and then lay it aside. Later after all the work on any certain problem or place was done, changes could be made in the later works required that the first impressions written out be revised.

The end of the season nearing, Smith concluded his investigations in North Saanich and returned to Spences Bridge to meet with Teit and make a journey into the Nicola Valley.

Nicola Lake

In the last week of September, Smith became re-acquainted with Teit in Spences Bridge. Smith had brought copies of his newly printed "Archaeology of Lytton" monograph to British Columbia with him so he could show the drawings of artifacts to knowledgable elders: Baptise form Nicola Valley, Michel from Lytton, SalictE, James and Charlie Tcilaxitca from Nicola Lake. These elders provided a great deal more detailed information of the uses of the objects shown in Smith's book, which he included as an appendix in his next monograph on the "Archaeology of the Thompson River".

With a week to spare before needing to return to New York, Smith and Teit set out on a hike into the somewhat remote Nicola Valley. They wished to observe and collect from a number of sites where Teit had heard about a particular burial practice. These burials were unusual in that the deceased were laid inside a tent set up beside a steep bank, and then a rock slide was caused which covered the grave with boulders (see Figure 6). The remains from these burials were very well preserved, and in some cases included impressive copper grave goods. Smith and Teit also photographed the frame of a sweat-house, a "kickulie house", and a group of people they met near the mouth of Nicola Lake. After a week of making collections and taking photographs of the area they returned to Spences Bridge. Smith packed up the last of his collections for shipping and returned to New York.

Harlan I. Smith after the Jesup Expedition

Smith spent the next eight years working at the American Museum of Natural History as Assistant Curator of Archaeology "receiving, unpacking, cataloguing, repairing, [taking care of] installation or storage, and the labelling of specimens, as well as answering the questions of visitors and correspondents". Smith set up exhibits at the American Museum which corresponded to the pieces illustrated in his Memoirs, thus giving the fullest account of the materials possible to the scholar, with plainly written labels intended for the lay public. In addition to his regular duties, he worked on writing up the Memoirs of his explorations.

Smith did not make any other field trips to the coast of British Columbia under the auspices of the Jesup Expedition. He did, however, conduct field research for the American Museum of Natural History in the Yakima Valley of Washington in 1903 and on the Northern coast of British Columbia and southern Alaska in 1909. Smith continued on at the American Museum until 1911, when he moved to Ottawa to take up the important position of Dominion Archaeologist for the National Museum of Canada. Smith's continued his field research on and off in British Columbia over the next two decades. He also conducted pioneering research in Quebec and Nova Scotia. Smith did not restrict himself to the investigation of archaeology, but also anthropological film making and photography, ethnobotany, and the education of the public on Native history and culture. His career has left a lasting legacy in the areas he worked in.

Smith's Contributions to the Jesup North Pacific Expedition

Boas had determined that Smith's primary research objective was to investigate and report on the archaeological remains of the North Pacific Coast of North America, in order that some comment could be made on the relationships between people from the New and Old Worlds. Boas hoped that this information would be able to support linguistic and ethnological evidence which was collected by other members of the Jesup Expedition. Smith's additional work in photography, physical anthropology, and ethnology also contributed to the goals of the expedition, but were remained absent from most of the publications relating to the Expedition..

Reviews of Smith's work by his peers indicate that his work was considered important and well done in its day. Otis T. Mason gave Smith and other Jesup researchers "hearty praise" for their research. J. A. McGuire felt that Smith deserved "the thanks of all students of archaeology for the thorough manner in which he has performed his task". Even George M. Dawson, who did not appreciate artifacts and human remains leaving Canada congratulated Smith for "illustrating the archaeology of this interesting locality". These reviewers all concurred that Smith had done well in his first task, the description of the archaeology of British Columbia and Washington. Indeed, his descriptions of archaeological sites has been cited again and again by scholars working on the Northwest Coast. Given Smith's early concerns about wishing to bring back and describe quantities of artifacts for the American Museum of Natural History, he would likely have been pleased that these descriptions have proved so useful.

So how did this archaeological work address the questions posed by the Jesup Expedition? For the material found in the interior of British Columbia, Smith interpreted his archaeological collections as reflecting cultures which were by-in-large the same as those of the present-day inhabitants. For the coastal regions, his published interpretations state the same general point, that "the finds indicate that the prehistoric people whose remains are found in these shell-heaps had a culture resembling in most of its features that of the present natives of the Fraser Delta". He finds that the artifacts and artwork of the lower levels of the shell-heaps to be almost identical to those of the upper levels.

However, there is a long-standing confusion about Smith's interpretation of the coastal material. Smith, following Boas's hypothesis, makes a case for there having been at some point in the past a replacement of the early coastal inhabitants by people from the interior. The main basis of this interpretation is the replacement of the long-skull people by the broad-skull people, as discussed by Boas. Smith looks for further support of Boas's hypothesis by pointing out similarities in chipped points, tubular pipes and geometric designs on objects found on the coast and in the interior.

Boas also cites Smith's evidence in his own publications as supporting his ideas about a Salish migration from the interior. The disappearance of stone flaking, the two distinct types of skulls, and the change of burial practices from cairns and mounds to tree burials all indicated this migration of people into the region. Boas asserted that the migration came from the interior because the long-skull type:

... are decidedly more with the people of the interior and of the Columbia River than with the present inhabitants of the Coast of British Columbia.

The interior invasion was then "in later times assimilated by the northern coast tribes in bodily form as well as culture". Boas also cited Smith's small amount of work in the Puget Sound as showing:

...that there was a gradual merging of the ancient culture of this area into that of the Columbia Valley, thus agreeing with the ethnological results obtained by Professor Ferrand.

As Robinson has previously discussed, Smith was influenced by Boas in presenting his model for the migration of people from the interior to the coast. Smith's correspondence tends to concur with Robinson's conclusions. His interpretations were always cautious and tended to defer to Boas, both in the field and in his publications. This conflict is most strongly evidenced in Smith's letters about the great many "intermediate types" skulls coming out of the shell heaps, which was later summarized by both Smith and Boas as being only two types. Beattie has recently summarized the debate on long-skulls and broad-skulls, showing that there is little physical evidence to support these kinds of groupings. Confusion about this issue may not have arose if Boas had heeded Smith's intuition about these skulls.

Smith's collections of skeletons, photographs, and plaster casts provided further information from which to address the historical relationships between the people living in the North Pacific Rim. While the Jesup Expedition was underway, Boas cited this material as being evidence for the "types of man" living in each geographical region of British Columbia as being distinct, yet historically connected. Very few of the profiles were ever used in the publications of the Jesup Expedition, outside a short album of Smith's pictures was showing typical profiles of people from the Thompson, Shuswap and Lillooet communities; and a plate published by Boas showing Tsimshian, Haida, Kwakiutl, Nootka, Thompson and Quinault "Indian types" of the Northwest Coast. Smith's collections of skeletal remains were analyzed twenty years after he collected them by Bruno Oetteking. Oetteking took careful measurements of the skulls and found several different methods of cranial deformation, which corresponded generally with different language groups of the Northwest Coast.

The with a few exceptions, the remainder of Smith's photographs and his ethnological collections remained largely unpublished in the Jesup Expedition monographs. Smith's few ethnological publications (Smith 1910a, 1910f, and 1911) do not discuss to any degree of detail the kinds of information he obtained. Smith's few notes from the correspondence presented here, and his lists of names and communities in his photograph records, provide some limited insight into the turn-of-the-century cultures of the people who's communities he worked in. His missing field notes would reveal more material of this nature, if they were to be found.

Archaeologist as Collaborator - Smith's Relationships in the Field

Smith's relationships with the Native communities he studied had a profound influence on how his investigations proceeded and his final descriptions and interpretations of the archaeological remains. Through Boas, Smith had connections with James Teit in Spences Bridge, Father Le Jeune in Kamloops, and George Hunt in Fort Rupert. This network of people around Boas gave Smith a unique opportunity for research, as well as limiting him to the areas Boas was interested in.

In the Thompson River area, Smith was able to draw on the excellent community contacts of James Teit and Father Le Jeune. His reports from this area are particularly rich with descriptions of the functions of objects, and the history of the sites he visited. On the north coast, George Hunt hosted Smith and his wife as they excavated at a shell heap very close to the Hunt house. Because of Smith's contacts in these communities, he must have felt some obligations to the people who he was studying. However, the problems which occurred in Kamloops, Fort Rupert and Lillooet surrounding the excavation of graves showed that these relationships provided tenuous rapport with the community, at best.

This can be contrasted with his work in the lower Fraser River and southeastern Vancouver Island regions, where Smith had no such contacts with the community. His descriptions of the archaeological materials from these areas are based largely on his own knowledge of the finds, and draw heavily on information obtained by Teit from people in the interior. He confined his archaeological investigations in these areas to off-reserve sites, where he could work on land owned by non-Natives. When he did try to excavate on reserve in Duncan, he was unable to obtain permission from the Native leaders with whom he had no contacts. As he could only communicate in English or with his limited knowledge of Chinook, he had a difficult time explaining what he wanted to do, or recording what Native people tried to tell him about their traditional ways of life. Smith's most extreme case of not having any community contacts was his work in Lillooet, where he chose to work at night to excavate burials that the community members would not otherwise approve of. This later came back to haunt him, as he could not return to the area like Boas would have wanted.

Collaborating with people who had long-term relationships with the Native communities Smith was interested in, also opened opportunities for Smith to take photographs and make plaster casts. Teit, Le Jeune and Hunt all explained to their community members what Smith wanted to do and introduced Smith to people who were willing to take part. They provided him with detailed information on the families and backgrounds of the people he photographed and casted. Of those pictures of people that Smith took on his own, most of them tended not to give any kind of detail about the subject other then their linguistic affiliation. Again, in the case of the Central Coast Salish communities on the lower Fraser River and southeastern Vancouver Island, Smith was unable to take any pictures or make casts of people, regardless of the price he offered to pay them. An opportunity to work with people in this area may have addressed the problem of the historical relationship between the interior and coastal Salish groups.


Harlan I. Smith's field work with the Jesup North Pacific Expedition provides an important contribution to the understanding of the history of the Native people of the North Pacific Coast. Long after the questions of the Jesup Expedition have been addressed, changed, and re-examined, Smith's work continues to be relevant. Native people today have questions about the relationship of anthropologists to their communities, as the results of projects like the Jesup Expedition raise issues such as repatriation, local control over cultural resources, the authority of non-Native scholars to interpret Native culture, and the growing interest in the revival of traditional cultural practices. Contemporary archaeologists need to reflect on the research that has gone on before them so that they may evaluate and situate their own research values and priorities.

The excavation of archaeological sites and collection of human remains is as controversial in Native communities today as it was when Harlan I. Smith was working for the Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Collaborating with Native people provides opportunities for Native people to have a meaningful say in how their culture is interpreted, and gives the archaeologist a richer understanding of human culture, both past and present.


I would like to thank the American Museum of Natural History, who provided me with a Collections Study Grant in 1993 to work on the Harlan I. Smith material. Anibal Rodriguez was particularly helpful with obtaining the correspondence from the Accession Records. Bill Fitzhugh at the Smithsonian Institution provided much encouragement and valuable comments for the writing and later focusing of this paper. The University of British Columbia provided me with a Travel Bursary to present an early draft of this paper at the 1994 American Society for Ethnohistory meetings in Tempe. Thank you finally to my friend Lynn Vanderwekken, who read endless drafts, and who gave me so much of her time while working on this paper.


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