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Jacobsen's Reise, 1884 The Raven mask (above and right) in Berlin is described in the Museum of Ethnology's catalogue as an important part of the Hamatsa Dance: "With its long beak Raven picks out the eyes of its victims and eats them." Franz Boas recorded some of the Raven legends of the Nahwitti during his 1886 visit and later published them in his classic book Indianische Sagen von der Nord - Pacifischen Küste Amerikas (1895).
See the 2002 English translation: Indian Myths & Legends.
He also remarked on the generous hospitality of the Kwakiutl, on their ingenuity, healthy life style and "exceedingly pretty" girls in his 2 vol.
book published in London in 1847; "Journey Round the World During the Years 18."mdasbe' (Humdaspe), meaning "place where there is otter." Almost untouched by white influence, this conservative village on Hope Island (right) was the principal home of the people known as the Nahwitti (the Yutlinuk, Tlatlasikwala and Nakomgilisala tribes) during the second half of the 19th century.
The high walls of Fort Rupert are seen in the background adjacent to the equally imposing Kwakiutl tribal houses of Tsais. Adrian Jacobsen The transformation mask (left and above) collected by Jacobsen is described in the Berlin Museum of Ethnology catalogue as a sculptural masterpiece that embodies the rivalry between Kwakiutl chiefs at potlatch ceremonies: "This mask, from a potlatch in Fort Rupert, shows the rivalry in two phases: the closed mask shows a spiritual ancestor of a Kwakiutl tribe who is angry and wants revenge on a rival. Photo: American Museum of Natural History Three decades earlier (18), the Royal Navy had shelled the Nahwitti who retreated as the Brits barbarically destroyed and burned their villages.
In 1881, Canada established the Kwawkewlth Indian Agency at Fort Rupert, the same year that the first wave of ethnology collecting began with the arrival of J. Jacobsen, a Norwegian collector who was working for the director of the Royal Ethnology Museum in Berlin, Germany. Some of the most spectacular masks were engraved in wood to illustrate his 1884 travel narrative "Reise an der Nordwestküste Amerikas," which was published in Leipzig. When opened, the mask shows the opposite: a friendly ancestral spirit who gives away gifts with open arms to his guests." When the Jacobsen collection arrived in Berlin at the Museum of Ethnology to be catalogued, it inspired the young Franz Boas to depart on a collecting trip to Vancouver Island and take up his lifelong passion for the Kwakwmdasbe', 1881. This was the first use of colonial military force against an aboriginal community on Vancouver Island.
Several Nahwitti were killed including Chief Nancy who had earlier been favourably described as "a grave, pensive, and handsome man" by the British governor of the Indian Territories, Sir George Simpson.
Jacobsen reported that the Nahwitti were not keen to part with their ceremonial masks and required much persuasion. Boas illustrated four of the named houses in the village (above) in his first major scholarly book, published in 1895.
See Franz Boas, Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians.