TEPPER, Leslie




Author Tags: First Nations, Photography

Produced in conjunction with a touring Canadian Museum of Civilization art exhibit, Legends of our Times: Native Ranching and Rodeo Life on the Plains and Plateau (UBC Press, 1998) by Métis curator Morgan Baillargeon and Leslie Heyman Tepper, a Curator of Pacific Coast Ethnology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, deconstructs the “Indian versus cowboy” stereotype by focussing on Aboriginal cowboys, their involvement in rodeos and their contributions to ranching.

In 1912, as many as 2,000 Aboriginals participated in the first Calgary Stampede, including Tom Three Persons, the only Canadian to win first prize in any rodeo event that year. In 1916 Jackson Sundown became the first Aboriginal to win the world bucking championship. Three Persons and Sundown were part of a venerable tradition of Indians who, since the mid-1800s, had applied their skills at herding horses to take advantage of new economic opportunities in ranching. While the romantic ideal of the lonesome white cowboy inspired countless Hollywood films and a popular music genre, the romantic ideal of the handsome Indian rodeo star inspired Buffy Sainte-Marie to write her 1971 pop song, ‘He's an Indian Cowboy in the Rodeo’. “There was a time in the early '70s when I got pretty heartsick at doing city concerts,” she recalls, “where the audience knew nothing about the pride and joy and beauty and fun, only the pain... 'He's An Indian Cowboy in the Rodeo' is one of the 'brag about the people' songs I wrote in consequence of that.”

Legends of our Times differs from Peter Iverson's When Indians Became Cowboys because it is restricted to 15 Plains tribes and five Plateau cultures and presents the words and works of Aboriginal and Métis ranchers and cowboys themselves. Contributors include artists George Littlechild and Allen Sapp, Métis poet Gregory Scofield and the ethnologist James Teit. Groups considered to be members of the Plateau culture are the Salish and Sahaptin language speakers, who include the Stl'atl'imx (Lillooet), Secwepemc (Shuswap), Okanagan, Coeur d'Alene, Salish (Flathead), Nez Perce and Nlaka'pamux (Thompson). The En’owkin Centre in Penticton was involved as consultants for this exhibit/book project. Tepper also wrote Earth Line and Morning Star: Nlaka’Pamux Clothing Traditions (1995) and she has documented the Suicide Race, or Mountain Race, a cross-country horse race held annually in conjunction with the Colville Reserve rodeo since 1932.

BOOKS:

Tepper, Leslie (editor). The Interior Salish Tribes of British Columbia: A Photographic Collection (Canadian Ethnology Service Mercury Series Paper No. 111, Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1987).

Tepper Leslie (editor). The Bella Coola Valley: Harlan I. Smith's Fieldwork Photographs, 1920-1924 (Canadian Ethnology Service Mercury Series Paper No. 123, Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1991).

Tepper, Leslie. Earth Line and Morning Star: Nlaka’Pamux Clothing Traditions (Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1995).

Baillargeon, Morgan & Leslie Tepper (editors). Legends of our Times: Legends of our Times: Native Ranching and Rodeo Life on the Plains and Plateau (UBC Press, 1998).

[BCBW 2004] "First Nations" "Photography" "Ranching"