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Athapaskan Migrations
The Archaeology of Eagle Lake, British Columbia
R. G. Matson and Martin P. R. Magne
University of Arizona Press, 2007
Migration as an instrument of cultural change is an undeniable feature of the archaeological record. Yet reliable methods of identifying migration are not always accessible.

In Athapaskan Migrations, authors R. G. Matson and Martin P. R. Magne use a variety of methods to identify and describe the arrival of the Athapaskan-speaking Chilcotin Indians in west central British Columbia. By contrasting two similar geographic areas—using the parallel direct historical approach—the authors define this aspect of Athapaskan culture. They present a sophisticated model of Northern Athapaskan migrations based on extensive archaeological, ethnographic, and dendrochronological research.

A synthesis of 25 years of work, Athapaskan Migrations includes detailed accounts of field research in which the authors emphasize ethnic group identification, settlement patterns, lithic analysis, dendrochronology, and radiocarbon dating. Their theoretical approach will provide a blueprint for others wishing to establish the ethnic identity of archaeological materials. Chapter topics include basic methodology and project history; settlement patterns and investigation of both the Plateau Pithouse and British Columbia Athapaskan Traditions; regional surveys and settlement patterns; excavated Plateau Pithouse Tradition and Athapaskan sites and their dating; ethnic identification of recovered material; the Chilcotin migration in the context of the greater Pacific Athapaskan, Navajo, and Apache migrations; and summaries and results of the excavations. The text is abundantly illustrated with more than 70 figures and includes access to convenient online appendixes. This substantial work will be of special importance to archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists, and scholars in Athapaskan studies and Canadian First Nation studies.

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Branching Out, Digging In
Environmental Advocacy and Agenda Setting
Sarah B. Pralle
Georgetown University Press, 2006

Sarah B. Pralle takes an in-depth look at why some environmental conflicts expand to attract a lot of attention and participation, while others generate little interest or action. Branching Out, Digging In examines the expansion and containment of political conflict around forest policies in the United States and Canada.

Late in 1993 citizens from around the world mobilized on behalf of saving old-growth forests in Clayoquot Sound. Yet, at the same time only a very few took note of an even larger reserve of public land at risk in northern California. Both cases, the Clayoquot Sound controversy in British Columbia and the Quincy Library Group case in the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern California, centered around conflicts between environmentalists seeking to preserve old-growth forests and timber companies fighting to preserve their logging privileges. Both marked important episodes in the history of forest politics in their respective countries but with dramatically different results. The Clayoquot Sound controversy spawned the largest civil disobedience in Canadian history; international demonstrations in Japan, England, Germany, Austria, and the United States; and the most significant changes in British Columbia's forest policy in decades. On the other hand, the California case, with four times as many acres at stake, became the poster child for the "collaborative conservation" approach, using stakeholder collaboration and negotiation to achieve a compromise that ultimately broke down and ended up in the courts.

Pralle analyzes how the various political actors—local and national environmental organizations, local residents, timber companies, and different levels of government—defined the issues in both words and images, created and reconfigured alliances, and drew in different governmental institutions to attempt to achieve their goals. She develops a dynamic new model of conflict management by advocacy groups that puts a premium on nimble timing, flexibility, targeting, and tactics to gain the advantage and shows that how political actors go about exploiting these opportunities and overcoming constraints is a critical part of the policy process.


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Brushed by Cedar, Living by the River
Coast Salish Figures of Power
Crisca Bierwert
University of Arizona Press, 1999
A brilliant, experimental ethnography, Brushed by Cedar is destined to change the way anthropologists write about the people they befriend.

Crisca Bierwert has created a fresh poststructural ethnography that offers new insights into Coast Salish cultures. Arguing against the existence of a master narrative, she presents her understanding of these Native American peoples of Washington state and British Columbia, Canada, through poetic bricolage, offering the reader a pastiche of rich cultural images. Bierwert employs postmodern literary and social analyses to examine many aspects of Salish culture: legends and their storytellers; domestic violence; longhouse ceremonies; the importance and power of place; and disputes over fishing rights. Her reflections overlap as a dialogue would, weaving throughout the book significant threads of Salish knowledge and creating a nonauthoritative text that nonetheless speaks knowingly.

This book represents the future of contemporary anthropology. Unlike traditional ethnography, it makes no attempt to portray a complete picture of the Coast Salish. Instead, Bierwert utilizes a critical and diffuse approach that defies colonial, syncretic, and hegemonic structures and applies advanced literary theory to the creation of ethnography.

Brushed by Cedar is an important guideline for anyone who writes about other cultures and will be expecially useful to classes in the methodology and history of ethnography, as well as to scholars specializing in Native American studies or oral literatures.

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A Deadly Wind
The 1962 Columbus Day Storm
John Dod
Oregon State University Press, 2018

The Columbus Day Storm of 1962 was a freak of nature, a weather outlier with deadly winds topping one hundred miles per hour. The storm killed dozens, injured hundreds, damaged more than fifty thousand homes, and leveled enough timber to build one million homes. To find an equally ferocious storm of its kind, fast-forward fifty years and cross the continent to Superstorm Sandy’s 2012 attack on the East Coast. While Superstorm Sandy was predicted days in advance, the Columbus Day Storm caught ill-equipped weather forecasters by surprise.

This unrivalled West Coast windstorm fueled the Asian log export market, helped give birth to the Oregon wine industry, and influenced the 1962 World Series. It remains a cautionary tale and the Pacific Northwest benchmark for severe windstorms in this era of climate change and weather uncertainty. From its genesis in the Marshall Islands to its final hours on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the storm plowed an unparalleled path of destruction.

In A Deadly Wind, veteran journalist John Dodge tells a compelling story spiced with human drama, Cold War tension, and Pacific Northwest history. This is a must-read for the tens of thousands of storm survivors, for history buffs, and for anyone interested in the intersection of severe weather events and climate change.


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The Death and Life of the Single-Family House
Lessons from Vancouver on Building a Livable City
Nathanael Lauster
Temple University Press, 2016

Vancouver today is recognized as one of the most livable cities in the world as well as an international model for sustainability and urbanism. Single-family homes in this city are “a dying breed.” Most people live in the various low-rise and high-rise urban alternatives throughout the metropolitan area.

The Death and Life of the Single-Family House explains how residents in Vancouver attempt to make themselves at home without a house. Local sociologist Nathanael Lauster has painstakingly studied the city’s dramatic transformation to curb sprawl. He tracks the history of housing and interviews residents about the cultural importance of the house as well as the urban problems it once appeared to solve.

Although Vancouver’s built environment is unique, Lauster argues that it was never predestined by geography or demography. Instead, regulatory transformations enabled the city to renovate, build over, and build around the house. Moreover, he insists, there are lessons here for the rest of North America. We can start building our cities differently, and without sacrificing their livability.


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Household Archaeology at the Bridge River Site (EeRl4), British Columbia
Spatial Distributions of Features, Lithic Artifacts, and Faunal Remains on Fifteen Anthropogenic Floors from Housepit 54
Anna Marie Prentiss, Ethan Ryan, Ashley Hampton, Kathryn Bobolinski, Pei-Lin Yu, Matthew Schmader, and Alysha Edwards
University of Utah Press, 2022
Household Archaeology at Bridge River offers a unique contribution to the study of household archaeology, providing unprecedented insights into the history of a long-lived house in the Interior Pacific Northwest. With fifteen intact anthropogenic floors dating to pre-Colonial times, Bridge River’s Housepit 54 provides an extraordinary archaeological record—the first to allow researchers to adequately test for relationships between occupational variation and social change.

The authors take a methodological approach that integrates the study of household spatial organization with consideration of archaeological formation processes. Repeating the same set of analyses for each floor, they examine stability from standpoints of occupation and abandonment cycles, structure and organization of activity areas, and variation in positioning of wealth-related items. This volume is an outstanding example of research undertaken through a collaborative partnership between scholars from the University of Montana and the community of the St’át’imc Nation.

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Murder in the Museum
Miriam Clavir
Bayeux Arts, 2012

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Landscapes and Social Transformations on the Northwest Coast
Colonial Encounters in the Fraser Valley
Jeff Oliver
University of Arizona Press, 2010
The Fraser Valley in British Columbia has been viewed historically as a typical setting of Indigenous-white interaction. Jeff Oliver now reexamines the social history of this region from pre-contact to the violent upheavals of nineteenth and early twentieth century colonialism to argue that the dominant discourses of progress and colonialism often mask the real social and physical process of change that occurred here—change that can be more meaningfully tied to transformations in the land.

The Fraser Valley has long been a scene of natural resource appropriation—furs and fish, timber and agriculture—with settlement patterns and land claims centering on the use of these materials. Oliver demonstrates how social change and cultural understanding are tied to the way that people use and remake the landscape. Drawing on ethnographic texts, archaeological evidence, cartography, and historical writing, he has created a deep history of the valley that enables us to view how human entanglements with landscape were creative of a variety of contentious issues. By capturing the multiple dynamics that were operating in the past, Oliver shows us not only how landscape transformations were implicated in constructing different perceptions of place but also how such changes influenced peoples’ understanding of history and identity.

This groundbreaking work examines engagement between people and the environment across a variety of themes, from aboriginal appropriation of nature to colonists’ reworking of physical and conceptual geographies, demonstrating the consequences of these interactions as they permeated various social and cultural spheres. It offers a new lens for viewing a region as it provides fresh insight into such topics as landscape change, perceptions of place, and Indigenous-white relations.

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The Last House at Bridge River
The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Household in British Columbia during the Fur Trade Period
Anna M. Prentiss
University of Utah Press, 2017

The Last House at Bridge River offers a comprehensive archaeological study of a single-house floor and roof deposit dated to approximately 1835–1858 C.E. Although the Fur Trade period of the nineteenth century was a time of significant change for aboriginal peoples in the Pacific Northwest, it is a period that is poorly understood. These studies of Housepit 54 at the Bridge River site offer new insights, revealing that ancestors of today’s St’át’imc people were actively engaged in maintaining traditional lifestyles and making the best of new opportunities for trade and intergroup interaction.

Among its major contributions, the book includes a first-ever historical ecology of the Middle Fraser Canyon that places aboriginal and Euro-Canadian history in ecological context. It demonstrates that an integrated multidisciplinary approach to archaeological research can achieve insights well beyond what is known from the ethnographic and historical records. Because the project derives from a long-term partnership between the University of Montana and the Bridge River Indian Band, it illustrates the value of collaborations between archaeologists and First Nations. Together, contributors present a Fur Trade period aboriginal society at a level of intimacy unparalleled elsewhere. 


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Little Bit Know Something
Stories in a Language of Anthropology
Robin Ridington
University of Iowa Press, 1990
The Dunne-za, the Beaver Indians of British Columbia, say that people who speak from the authority of their experience "little bit know something." This knowledge, which comes through direct experience, dreaming, and the searing transformation of the vision quest, empowers a person to live in this world with intelligence and understanding.
In this sensitive, insightful volume, drawn from over twenty-five years' experience with the Dunne-za Indians, Ridington advocates his unique language of anthology—and in so doing he communicates the themes of cultural and individual knowledge, visionary empowerment, shamanic transformation, and the dialogic basis of ethnographic authority within the evolving context of a humanistic cultural anthropology.

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The Origin and Distribution of Birds in Coastal Alaska and British Columbia
The Lost Manuscript of Ornithologist Harry S. Swarth
Christopher W. Swarth
Oregon State University Press, 2022
At the time of his death in 1935, Harry S. Swarth, head of the Mammalogy and Ornithology Departments at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, had been preparing a manuscript reflecting on twenty-five years of his research in coastal Alaska and British Columbia. “The Distribution and Migrations of Birds in Adjacent Alaska and British Columbia” summarized Swarth’s research, ideas, and conjectures on the bird life in the region, including theories about when and how birds populated this vast territory after the retreat of glaciers near the end of the Pleistocene. Drawing on his field experiences and his forty published scientific papers, Swarth’s manuscript represented state-of-the-art science for the time. And his ideas hold up; his papers are still cited by ornithologists today.

In 2019, Christopher Swarth, Harry’s grandson and a scientist in his own right, discovered the forgotten manuscript. This book includes the original unpublished manuscript, accompanied by contextual essays from contemporary ornithologists who examine the impact and relevance of Swarth’s research on coastal bird diversity, fox sparrow migration, and the systematic puzzle of the timberline sparrow. Expedition maps display field camps and exploration routes, and species checklists illustrate the variety of birds observed at key field sites. To bring additional color and insight, The Origin and Distribution of Birds in Coastal Alaska and British Columbia also includes excerpts from Harry Swarth’s field notes, a comprehensive list of Harry Swarth’s publications, and a glossary with historic and contemporary bird names. Naturalists, ornithologists, birders, and all those who want to learn more about the natural history of the region will delight in the rediscovery of this long-lost treasure.

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Political Space
Reading The Global Through Clayoquot Sound
Warren Magnusson
University of Minnesota Press, 2002

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Russian Refuge
Religion, Migration, and Settlement on the North American Pacific Rim
Susan Wiley Hardwick
University of Chicago Press, 1993
In 1987, when victims of religious persecution were finally allowed to leave Russia, a flood of immigrants landed on the Pacific shores of North America. By the end of 1992 over 200,000 Jews and Christians had left their homeland to resettle in a land where they had only recently been considered "the enemy."

Russian Refuge is a comprehensive account of the Russian immigrant experience in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and British Columbia since the first settlements over two hundred years ago. Susan Hardwick focuses on six little-studied Christian groups—Baptists, Pentecostals, Molokans, Doukhobors, Old Believers, and Orthodox believers—to study the role of religion in their decisions to emigrate and in their adjustment to American culture.

Hardwick deftly combines ethnography and cultural geography, presenting narratives and other data collected in over 260 personal interviews with recent immigrants and their family members still in Russia. The result is an illuminating blend of geographic analysis with vivid portrayals of the individual experience of persecution, migration, and adjustment.

Russian Refuge will interest cultural geographers, historians, demographers, immigration specialists, and anyone concerned with this virtually untold chapter in the story of North American ethnic diversity.

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The Same River Twice
A Boatman's Journey Home
Michael Burke
University of Arizona Press, 2006
In the summer of 1991 Michael Burke, an experienced river guide, embarks on a three-week journey down a series of remote rivers in British Columbia. Leaving behind his pregnant wife, he embraces the perils of a voyage with a companion he barely knows in a raft that may not weather the trip. He attempts to reconcile the shifting fates of his life—his transition from river guide to husband, father, and academic. At the same time, he hopes to explore his connection to a distant relative, Sid Barrington, who was a champion “swiftwater pilot of the North” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

As Burke contemplates what he and Sid may have had in common, he meditates on the changing meaning of rivers, and the impossibility of fully recovering the past. In clear and graceful prose, Burke blends Sid’s colorful history with his own uncommon journey. He also reflects upon the quick currents of time and the fierce passion he shares with Sid for the life of river running in Alaska and the west. Unlike most river-running books that often describe waterways in the lower forty-eight states, The Same River Twice introduces readers to rough, austere, and unfamiliar rivers in the northern wilderness. Burke has an intimate understanding of these remote, free-flowing rivers. He effectively captures the thrill of moving water, the spirit of rivers and river canyons, and the life of river guides. This insightful memoir brings readers into a confluence of rivers, where past and present merge, revealing the power of wilderness and the truth about changing course.

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The Story of Radio Mind
A Missionary's Journey on Indigenous Land
Pamela E. Klassen
University of Chicago Press, 2018
At the dawn of the radio age in the 1920s, a settler-mystic living on northwest coast of British Columbia invented radio mind: Frederick Du Vernet—Anglican archbishop and self-declared scientist—announced a psychic channel by which minds could telepathically communicate across distance. Retelling Du Vernet’s imaginative experiment, Pamela Klassen shows us how agents of colonialism built metaphysical traditions on land they claimed to have conquered.
Following Du Vernet’s journey westward from Toronto to Ojibwe territory and across the young nation of Canada, Pamela Klassen examines how contests over the mediation of stories—via photography, maps, printing presses, and radio—lucidly reveal the spiritual work of colonial settlement. A city builder who bargained away Indigenous land to make way for the railroad, Du Vernet knew that he lived on the territory of Ts’msyen, Nisga’a, and Haida nations who had never ceded their land to the onrush of Canadian settlers. He condemned the devastating effects on Indigenous families of the residential schools run by his church while still serving that church. Testifying to the power of radio mind with evidence from the apostle Paul and the philosopher Henri Bergson, Du Vernet found a way to explain the world that he, his church and his country made.
Expanding approaches to religion and media studies to ask how sovereignty is made through stories, Klassen shows how the spiritual invention of colonial nations takes place at the same time that Indigenous peoples—including Indigenous Christians—resist colonial dispossession through stories and spirits of their own.

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