Kwakiutl Songs

SD0158:0001 - 0006
wax phonograph cylinders
Nahwitti Tom

These six brown wax phonograph cylinders are believed to be the earliest surviving sound recordings made in British Columbia. They were recorded on September 19, 1899 by pioneering American anthropologist George A. Dorsey (1868-1931) at the village of Xumtaspi (Hope Island).

The cylinders feature performances by Tom Haimasela (Nahwitti Tom), including a Hamatsa song, a funeral song, healing incantations, and a gambling song from the bone-in-hand game “lahal”. According to a report in the Daily Colonist (September 27, 1899), Dorsey played the recordings later that same month at a meeting of the Natural History Society in Victoria.

The museum acquired the cylinders from C.F. Newcombe. Audiotape copies were produced by the National Museum of Man in 1980, and the cylinders and tapes were transferred to the archives.

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This object selected by Dennis J. Duffy. View Profile »