Alexander Thomas | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Alexander Thomas

Alexander Thomas, writer, Indigenous leader (born on 25 December 1891 in Port Alberni, BC; died there on 28 July 1971).

Chief Alex Thomas, while living by traditional hunting and fishing, was the first Nuu--chah-nulth person to write down and translate texts on the culture and history of his people. Working as translator for his grandfather, a field consultant of Edward Sapir 1910-14, Alex learned to write the standard alphabet developed by Sapir and his teacher Franz Boas. From 1914 on he gave his people a literature of thousands of pages, still today only partly published, as in E. Sapir and M. Swadesh, Nootka Texts (1939) and Native Accounts of Nootka Ethnography (1955), and in A. Thomas and E. Arima, t'a:t'a:qsapa. A Practical Orthography for Nootka (1970).