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North West Coast Indians in the Brooklyn museum. Collections and Galleries. Kwakiutl and Haida Cultures.    
 
 
THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM

NORTH WEST COAST INDIANS

Collections from the Indians of the Northwest Coast contained in Room 2 of the Brooklyn Museum, entered from Room 1 from the south, are derived from the Haida Indians of Queen Charlotte Islands, the Kwakiutl and other tribes of the Wakashan linguistic family of Vancouver Island and the coast of Washington and the Salish Indians of the Fraser River region in British Columbia.

Exhibits of northwest coast indians like Kwakiutl include four large carved and unpainted house posts, shown on the east and south walls of this room, from an old Kwakiutl house at Alert Bay, Vancouver Island.
Two other house posts of the Kwakiutl are shown at the west end of the hall, and a carved memorial figure, also from the Kwakiutl, representing the "Speaker" at a ceremonial feast, is exhibited near the entry on the north side. Other exhibits from the Kwakiutl and tribes of the same linguistic family are shown at the east end of the hall and include basketry and weaving materials, games, house-hold utensils, ceremonial food dishes inlaid with opercula, and other objects.

Exhibits from northwest coast indians like the Haida Indians, here in the Brooklyn Museum, include a series of models of Haida houses, copies from actual houses in the village of Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, ranged around the walls on an upper shelf. These houses each have a tall carved totem pole in front of them, and the actual totem pole which may be seen in the elevator shaft, at the end of Room 3, was taken from the same village.
The mural paintings in this hall represent the village of Masset and show a series of these Haida houses ranged along the banks of a lake.

The case of exhibits from the Haida on the southwest wall contains painted basketry, hats, carved and painted wooden helmets, food dishes, carved spoon, stone, slate and wooden dishes for grease and berries, basketry mats and other objects.
From the Salish Indians, basketry, implements and materials used in its manufacture, beads, utensils, dried roots and fruits, stone and wooden tools and other objects are shown in a case on the north wall. Maps, color sketches, prints and other illustrated material on the walls and in the cases supplement the impression made by the exhibits.
 
Ascending to the second floor, the visitor passes exhibits of fabrics, musical instruments and other objects from East India. The entrance to the Natural History Collections is flanked on either side by the bronzes, by Carl E. Akeley, of an African elephant group and a lion and buffalo.

The room directly at the left from the elevator (Room 5 on plan) forms the best point of departure for a study of the collections of the northwest coast indians. It contains exhibits illustrating the Evolution, Distribution and Preservation of animals, designed to indicate the manner in which new types and species have come into existence; various ways in which animals may become adapted to environment, and how the present distribution of animals has been brought about. The latter point is illustrated by maps on either side of this room of the Brooklyn Museum, as one enters, and over the doorway inside, showing the extent and relations to one another of the continental areas at different epochs of the world's history, and the zoological regions of the world as they are to-day, thus indicating how animals in the past have been able to travel by land between regions now separated by sea.
 
Portraits of Darwin and Huxley, the men most prominently associated with the theories of evolution and survival of the fittest, are placed in the entry of this room. On the left an exhibit dealing with man's place in nature shows, by comparison of human skulls with those of other members of the Order Primates and by models of brains and casts, how man differs from and approximates other species of his order, and, by comparison of skulls of different races of mankind, how man varies within his own species.

On either side of the entry are exhibits showing on the one hand Protective Coloration in insects, by examples whose color and markings blend with their natural surroundings, and on the other Mimicry of harmful by harm-less insects for protection.
What may be termed a refinement of protective coloration is shown in an exhibit immediately opposite the en-trance, illustrating obliterative shading. This shows a flock of birds, some of which, though identical with the back-ground in color and markings, stand out from it clearly because of the effects of natural light and shadow, and others, which, though unlike the background, are shaded so as to counteract these effects and are less noticeable.

Above this exhibit of the Brooklyn Museum is shown a mounted skunk in its environment, to illustrate ruptive coloration, or the way in which contrasted marking of an animal may break up its outline and render it less distinguishable.
Variation within the Species constituted the starting point for the production of new species, and on the west wall of this room is an exhibit illustrating the variation in nature which may be brought about by different conditions.
Variation with Sex or Season is shown by a group of ruffs, and a fine series of great horned owls, representing a wide area, illustrates well the varieties that may occur in one species with varied geographic range.

Variation Under Domestication is illustrated by an exhibit on the east wall, showing the domesticated fowl as evolved from the jungle fowl of India, and on the same side of the room the various means by which different animals have been able to survive in the struggle for existence, e.g., by endurance, numbers, armor, concealment and warning or protective coloration, are indicated.
Albinism, Melanism and other color phases of animals are shown in the passage to the east of this room; and, opposite these, Adaptation to Environment is well illustrated by the snowy arctic owl, desert and cave animals and, around the corner in the next hall, by color changes in the demon stinger fish.

 

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