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Jillian & Robin Ridington

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Danne-za Drumming and Dancing: 1966 and 2000

The two sets of photographs we are submitting reflect 40 years of work with the Danne-za First Nations of North-eastern British Columbia. Robin Ridington met the Danne-za people in 1959. He spent 1965-1966 in a cabin on Danne-za land, and has returned to their territory almost every year since that time. Jillian Ridington began working with him, and with the Danne-za, in 1978. Although massive changes have taken place over the four decades, the songs and stories that are the core of Danne-za culture remain strong, and are being learned by Danne-za children today.

The first pair of photographs show Daeda-ma (Ano Davis) dancing with children at a tea dance in 1966, and May Dominic Apsassin, now an elder, dancing with children at a tea dance held at the Doig River First Nation in 2000. The second pair show Danne-za men drumming and singing in 1966 and in 2000. Tommy Attachie, a young man in the 1966 photograph, is now an elder and the lead singer at all Danne-za ceremonials. In both photographs, he is wearing a brown cowboy hat. the 1966 photo, he is on the far left; in the 2000 photo, he is the central figure. Both of the 1966 photographs were taken by Robin Ridington; Jillian Ridington photographed the events in 2000.

The archive of recordings and photographs that the Ridingtons have acquired over this extended period are being put on CDs and presented to the Danne-za First Nations. Robin Ridington is also collaborating with Garry Oker, a member of the Doig River First Nation and a drummer and singer (he is to the left of Tommy Attachie in the 2000 drumming photo) on a film entitled Contact the People, which incorporates many sounds and images from the Ridingtons' archive.