HALPIN, Marjorie M.




Author Tags: Anthropology, First Nations

The notebooks of William Beynon are among the most significant written records of Northwest coast potlatching, and they were published for the first time in Potlatch at Gitsegukla: William Beynon's 1945 Field Notebooks (UBC Press, 2000) edited by Margaret Anderson and Marjorie Halpin. Born in 1888 in Victoria to a Welsh father and Tsimshian mother, Beynon had a long career as an ethnographer of Tsimshian, Nisga’a and Gitksan communities. In 1945 Beynon attended and participated in five days of potlatch at the Gitksan village of Gitsegukla where the focus of the ceremonies was the raising of five totem poles. The event marked a struggle between the traditions of the older members and the modernizing impulse of the young. The introduction by Margaret Anderson and Marjorie Halpin puts Beynon’s account into a Gitksan cultural perspective. “We are left with a deep appreciation not only for the immense amount of work done by Beynon, but also for the profound debt owed to the elders of Gitsegukla, who saw so clearly that their ways are the continuing strength of their people and who, in 1945, brought the young people of their village from reluctant acquiescence in these events to a deeper awareness and celebration of their identity and heritage.”

Marjorie Halpin (b. 1937) has described herself as essentially an essayist bridging non-academic and academic worlds. She was introduced to Northwest Coast art while working at the Smithsonian Institution. She came to UBC in 1968 as a doctoral student, undertaking a study of the art of the Tsimshian and their neighbors on the Nass and Skeena rivers. This work focused on crests, masks and totem poles. In 1973 she published a study of Tsimshian Crest System based on notes of Marius Barbeau and Willam Beynon. In 1976, Halpin was directly involved in moving the university collection of anthropological artefacts from the basement of the Main Library to the new Museum of Anthropology where she became curator of Ethnology. "We weren't even aware of what we had until we got to the new museum," she said. As an anthropologist, she has published all her titles with UBC.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Potlatch at Gitsegukla: William Beynon's 1945 Field Notebooks
Manlike Monsters on Trial: Early Records and Modern Evidence

BOOKS:

Halpin, Marjorie & Michael M. Ames (editors). Manlike Monsters on Trial: Early Records and Modern Evidence (UBC Press, 1980).
Halpin, Marjorie. Totem Poles: An Illustrated Guide (UBC Press, 1981).
Halpin, Marjorie & N. Ross Crumrine (editors). The Power of Symbols: Masks and Masquerade in the Americas (UBC Press, 1983).
Halpin, Marjorie. Jack Shadbolt and the Coastal Indian Image (UBC Museum of Anthropology, Museum Note No. 18, 1986).
Halpin, Marjorie & Margaret Anderson (editors). Potlatch at Gitzegulka: William Beynon's 1945 Field Notebooks (UBC Press, 2000).

[BCBW 2004] "Anthropology" "First Nations"

Potlatch at Gitsegukla (UBC $29.95)
Info



The notebooks of William Beynon are among the most significant written records of Northwest coast potlatching, and they were published for the first time in Potlatch at Gitsegukla: William Beynon's 1945 Field Notebooks(UBC $29.95) edited by Margaret Anderson and Marjorie Halpin.

Born in 1888 in Victoria to a Welsh father and Tsimshian mother, Beynon had a long career as an ethnographer of Tsimshian, Nisga’a and Gitksan communities. In 1945 Beynon attended and participated in five days of potlatch at the Gitksan village of Gitsegukla where the focus of the ceremonies was the raising of five totem poles. The event marked a struggle between the traditions of the older members and the modernizing impulse of the young. The introduction by Margaret Anderson and Marjorie Halpin puts Beynon’s account into a Gitksan cultural perspective. “We are left with a deep appreciation not only for the immense amount of work done by Beynon, but also for the profound debt owed to the elders of Gitsegukla, who saw so clearly that their ways are the continuing strength of their people and who, in 1945, brought the young people of their village from reluctant acquiescence in these events to a deeper awareness and celebration of their identity and heritage.” 0-7748-0743-1

[Lisa Kerr / BCBW 2001]