Author Tags: First Nations, Haida Gwaii, Women
New York anthropologist Margaret Blackman wrote During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, A Haida Woman (University of Washington Press, 1982) and Sadie Brower Neakok (Douglas & McIntyre, 1993), both accounts of West Coast aboriginal women.
Florence Davidson has been credited with reviving the tradition of making button blankets among the Haida in the 1950s. She made her first button blanket in 1952 to console herself after her family lost their possessions in a house fire. She also made traditional woven baskets and hats. As a revered conduit for tribal culture, Davidson frequently collaborated with ethnologists, filmmakers and anthropologists including Margaret Blackman with whom she co-authored an autobiography, During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, A Haida Woman (University of Washington Press, 1982). Having been one of the last Haida women to undergo the traditional puberty seclusion and an arranged marriage, Davidson provided her biographer with keen appreciations of female roles in Haida society, revelations about menopause and widowhood, derived from approximately 50 hours of tape recordings. A revised, enlarged edition appeared in 1992.
Born in Masset on September 15, 1896, Florence Edenshaw Davidson was the daughter of renowned artist Charles Edenshaw and the grandmother of artists Reg Davidson and Robert Davidson. Also related to artist Albert Edward Edenshaw, she was married at age 14 to logger, fisherman, trapper and carver Robert Davidson Sr., a hereditary chief of the town of Kayung. They had 13 children including Claude Davidson, a carver and the chief of the village of Masset, father of Reg Davidson and Robert Davidson. Partially as a tribute to Florence Davidson and other elders, Nancy J. Turner completed Plants of Haida Gwaii (Sono Nis, 2004), an ethnobotanical study of the Queen Charlotte Islands that Turner began with her first visit to Haida Gwaii in the early 1970s with her husband Robert D. Turner. Some of Nancy Turner's information on plants was gleaned directly from Florence Davidson, who invited her to attend her 95th birthday celebrations. Florence Davidson is depicted on the cover of Turner’s book in a photograph by Robert D. Turner showing her removing cedar bark from a red cedar in preparation for weaving. Florence Davidson, who greeted Queen Elizabeth at Sandspit in 1971, died in Masset in December of 1993.
Blackman's Ph.D dissertation at Ohio State University in 1973 was "The Northern and Kaigani Haida: A Study in Photographic Ethnohistory." It resulted in Window on the Past: The Photographic Ethnohistory of the Northern and Kaigani Haida (Ottawa: Mercury Series No. 74, National Museum, 1981) in which she analysed more than 200 photographs of late 19th century Northern and Kaigani Haida villages and people. Blackman wrote on mortuary art for Ethnology magazine in 1973 and Beaver magazine in 1975, and with Edwin S. Hall she presented an overview of Northwest Coast Aboriginal printmaking in American Indian Art magazine in 981, with photos of works by Bill Reid, Robert Davidson, Henry Hunt, Stan Greene, Joe David, Vernon Stephens, Ken Mowatt, Art Thompson, Tony Hunt, Mark Henderson and Roy Vickers. Her collection of Northwest Coast art was showcased in a catalogue from the Tower Fine Arts Gallery Tower at the University of New York entitled Witness the Magician (Contemporary Northwest Coast Indian Art from the Collection of Edwin Hall and Margaret Blackman, 1980).
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, A Haida Woman
Blackman, Margaret. Window on the Past: The Photographic Ethnohistory of the Northern and Kaigani Haida (Ottawa: Mercury Series No. 74, National Museum, 1981).
Blackman, Margaret. During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, A Haida Woman (University of Washington Press, 1982; Douglas & McIntyre, 1985).
Blackman, Margaret. Sadie Brower Neakok (Douglas & McIntyre, 1993).
[BCBW 2004] "First Nations" "QCI" "Women"