The original Heiltsuk-speaking tribes inhabited the outer islands, protected inland waterways, and mainland fiords of the central Northwest Coast. In 1880 the Methodist Church made the Heiltsuk village of Bella Bella its base for mission work on the Northwest Coast. By the time missionary and doctor Reverend Richard W. Large arrived in 1898 the village outwardly resembled a European-style town, but Heiltsuk culture persisted. While the Heiltsuk absorbed, adapted, and appropriated aspects of Euro-Canadian culture to their needs, they also maintained their ancestral artistic traditions and spiritual ceremonies, sometimes under clandestine circumstances.Large was among the missionaries approached by museum agents to assist in the acquisition of artifacts, resulting in one of the most significant collections of Heiltsuk art in existence. Large's close association with the Heiltsuk as minister, physician, surgeon, administrator, justice of the peace, choirmaster, and teacher resulted in the uniqueness of his collection of artifacts and its documentation. His interest in folk medicine, mythology, and archaeology is evident in his published writings, which are a primary source for this study. Unlike many ethnological collectors, Large spent years in one community (1898-1910) and recorded specific, personal information. Also, as a physician and surgeon, he had power in, and access to, aboriginal society beyond that available to many missionaries.Large's collection is important to Native America art history, which has been hampered in the past by the assumption that aboriginal art is static through time, anonymous, and lacking in documentation. In its examination of the historical contextof the collection, the work is also a dynamic story of cultural clash and cultural exchange.