Most Indigenous ethnology collections found in Canadian museums today were gathered (and sometimes confiscated) by missionaries, government agents, amateur and professional collectors and anthropologists such as Edward Sapir and Marius Barbeau during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Today, many Indigenous nations are requesting that these items be returned to their true home.
Anthropology is the comparative study of past and contemporary cultures, focusing on the ways of life and customs of people around the world. Subdisciplines have developed within anthropology, owing to the amount of information collected and the wide variety of methods and techniques used in research. The main branches are physical anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, ethnology (which is also called social or cultural anthropology) and applied anthropology. In Canada, early anthropologists included missionaries, explorers and traders who documented the lives of the Indigenous people they encountered. Later, the Geological Survey of Canada played a significant role in the development of Canadian anthropology.