George Hunt (ethnologist)

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For other people named George Hunt, see George Hunt (disambiguation).
George Hunt
Born (1854-02-14)February 14, 1854
Fort Rupert, B.C.
Died 1933
Fort Rupert, B.C.
Occupation Ethnologist, Linguist, Artist
Parents Robert Hunt, Mary Ebbetts (Anislaga)

George Hunt (1854-1933) was a Tlingit consultant to the anthropologist Franz Boas who through his contributions is considered a linguist and ethnologist in his own right. He was Tlingit by birth but through marriage and adoption became an expert on the traditions of the Kwakwaka'wakw people (then known as "Kwakiutl") of coastal British Columbia.

He was born in 1854 at Fort Rupert, British Columbia, the second of eleven children of Robert Hunt, a Hudson's Bay Company fur trader from Dorset, England, and Mary Ebbetts (Ansnaq) (1823-1919), a member of the Raven moiety of the Taantakwáan (Tongass) tribe of the Tlingit nation of southeastern Alaska. Robert and Mary had been married at the original Fort Simpson, on the Nass River in northwestern B.C.

Hunt's parents' marriage was the occasion of the introduction of many Tlingit hereditary privileges and artistic motifs (reflected on totem poles) into Kwakwaka'wakw society.

In the early 1880s Hunt served as boatman, guide, and interpreter for Adrian Jacobsen of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition.

Hunt's collaboration with Boas began in 1886 when Boas first visited the Kwakwaka'wakw. In 1893, Boas brought Hunt to the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago and taught him how to write the Kwak'wala language. He carved a totem pole, Kwanusila, that was on display in a Chicago park for many decades until it had to be replaced; the carver of the replacement was his descendant Tony Hunt. Hunt was also instrumental in the purchase of the Yuquot Whalers' Shrine in 1904, an object that has since been of some controversy in recent decades.

Over the years Hunt produced hundreds of pages of texts for Boas, covering every aspect of Kwakwaka'wakw culture, including potlatch ceremonies in which Hunt himself participated.

George Hunt's descendants include Dr. Gloria Cranmer-Webster whose contributions to her community are too numerous to list here, the filmmaker Barbara Cranmer, and a dynasty of traditional Northwest Coast artists including Henry Hunt, Richard Hunt, Stanley Hunt, Tony Hunt, and Calvin Hunt.

Another descendant of the Hunt family is Corrine Hunt, who designed all of the gold, silver and bronze medals given out at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic and Paralympic games.

In 1986 members of the Boas and Hunt families held a "reunion" at Tsaxis (Fort Rupert).


  • Barbeau, Marius (1950) Totem Poles. 2 vols. (Anthropology Series 30, National Museum of Canada Bulletin 119.) Ottawa: National Museum of Canada.
  • Berman, Judith (1994) "George Hunt and the Kwak'wala Texts" Anthropological Linguistics Vol. 36, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 483-514.
  • Boas, Franz, and George Hunt (1905) Kwakiutl Texts. (Publications of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, vol. 3.) Leiden, Netherlands.
  • Boas, Franz, and George Hunt (1906) Kwakiutl Texts—Second Series. (Publications of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, vol. 10). Leiden, Netherlands.
  • Codere, Helen (1966) "Introduction." In: Kwakiutl Ethnography by Franz Boas, pp. xi-xxxii. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Hunt, Ross (2007) "The Hunt Family's Trip to West Germany to Attend the Bundesgarten Show." Anthropology News, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 20–21.
  • Miller, Tom (2010) "Medals sport a familiar look." Ketchikan Daily News, Feb. 27, 2010, page 1.

External links[edit]

The Wilson family is included in the Hunt Family, Also the Matilpi's