Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dr. Charles Marius Barbeau Honoured in Oklahoma

The Museum of Civilization, located in Ottawa, has received word that the Sam Noble Museum in Norman, Oklahoma, is honouring the legacy of Dr. Charles Marius Barbeau with a special exhibition called “The Gathering of Traditions: A Centennial Celebration”. It features objects and photographs from the Barbeau collections at the Museum of Civilization.

The press release says that “Dr. Barbeau, who travelled to the state one hundred years ago to document the culture of its Huron people. The materials he collected—now housed in the Canadian Museum of Civilization—represent a unique historical record that is helping descendants reconnect with their heritage.

Barbeau travelled to Oklahoma in 1911 and 1912. He was then working for the Geological Survey of Canada, studying the Aboriginal cultures of Eastern Canada. In Ontario, he met a Huron elder named Mary McKee who told him about her relatives in Oklahoma. She urged Barbeau to go there to learn more about the Huron culture.

He did so, meeting members of the Wyandotte Nation and Seneca-Cayuga tribe. Armed with an early recording device, he captured their language, legends, and songs on wax cylinders. He also took photographs and detailed field notes, and purchased some of their belongings. He returned to Canada with a priceless cultural record. By accessing those collections, members of the Wyandotte Nation and Seneca-Cayuga tribe have learned long-forgotten details about their ancient culture.

He received a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, and was among the first graduates in the new discipline of Anthropology. He also received many awards and honours in his lifetime and posthumously. In 1985, he was recognized as a “person of national historic importance” by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada”.

To see more about the exhibit at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman, Oklahoma go to

To read more about Dr. Barbeau, go to Wyandotte Nation: Preserving the future of our past! at

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