Box #3

We’re on box #3, which honestly isn’t that far into this amazing collection. The Oliver Jackson collection is not only vast in numbers, but gives an honest depiction of what non-indigenous people thought our culture was. To be honest, this is not a bad thing at all. This man gave the public an Indigenous culture during a time where we, as Indigenous people, were forbidden by the government to not only display our culture in public, but even practice it in private.

So here we have this man that has a genuine appreciation for what Indigenous people are and what he believed they represented. From a young age Oliver had a love for the people and wanted to be a part of their life.

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The first thing we pulled out of Box #3 was this amazing hand crafted, and fully beaded vest. This object is a work of pure magic. Every piece of this vest is encompassed by beads that are beautifully and flawlessly etched into the leather. The designs he chose are both elegant and glamorous!  I cannot even imagine the time and effort Oliver made to make this single piece. The vest has successfully endured the test of time, as it still displays its shining colors and can still be worn today.

Another piece I wanted to talk about was the turtle rattle we had unboxed. The main based of the rattle is hand carved wood that takes the shape of a snake. Another self-taught skill Oliver had was his hand carving. Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-28,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YOf the many pieces we’ve already accessioned, the pieces that he carved are masterfully done.

The main part is made of a preserved turtle shell with deer hooves stitched into the shell. Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-28,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YThis piece was so creatively put together it was impossible to not talk about. This almost sounds like a customer review of a toy, but this is too good to pass off. I wish I knew the history around creating this piece, and what methods Oliver had used to make it. It`s only once in a blue moon that you come across a piece like this, and still have it in amazing shape. I have no doubts the Laurel Packing House did a fine job accessioning and preserving the piece, but all of Oliver`s works seem to have the attribute to last.

Oliver Jackson


Oliver Jackson

Oliver Jackson was born in Norfolk, England 1899 and was one of eleven children. Oliver learned to sew from his mother at a young age and would practice whittling wood while he herded sheep. Oliver was fascinated by Indigenous culture and created his first “costume” at the age of eight.

Oliver Jackson 1977
Oliver Jackson

Oliver moved to Kelowna in the late 1920’s after the First World War and worked as a cowboy at the Christian Ranch for Countess Bubna.

Irene May Blair (Countess Bubna)

Over the years Oliver continued to create “Indian costumes” which were in high demand for regattas and other events. In this way our story and histories as indigenous, specifically Okanagan people, was misrepresented and therefore misinterpreted.

This misguided representation brought forth issues and concerns that we are still addressing today.

Today we are reclaiming our heritage by readdressing the Oliver Jackson collection, not to offend but to utilize as a learning tool to better understand the difference between appropriation and appreciation.

Oliver Jackson ca1970
Oliver in regatta 1970

We appreciate the work created by Oliver Jackson as it was of high quality and often under the guidance of various First Nation People with good intentions. It is because of this collection we have the opportunity to reflect on indigenous cultures across Canada