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Monday March 29, 2010 in Books
A vital collection of writings about First Nations people and culture as it existed on the island coasts of the Depression-era Pacific Northwest and originally published in the pages of Victoria’s oldest newspaper, the Daily Colonist, the sixty stories included here are the result of a unique collaboration between a middle-aged woman, Beryl Cryer, of upper-class British ancestry, and well-known Hul’q’umi’num’-speaking cultural elders, keenly aware of the punitive anti-land claims legislation passed by the Canadian Parliament in 1927, and therefore eager to have their stories told and published.
Mary Rice from Kuper Island, who lived next door to the Cryer family home in Chemainus, BC, is well remembered even today for her storytelling abilities; she taught Beryl Cryer, with whom she became close friends, countless aspects of indigenous culture, particularly as experienced by women. An elder in a thriving native culture, she introduced Cryer to the many other authorities from whom these stories were gathered for the newspaper.
Although she was not a trained anthropologist, Beryl Cryer was an honest observer and careful recorder. She embellished the material she collected with minor anecdotal introductions that give the reader a vivid sense of the person telling the story. The accounts themselves are valuable documents of Coast Salish oral traditions dealing with a wide range of subject matter from known sources, almost all of whom were well-versed in English.
ISBN 13: 9780889225558 | ISBN 10: 889225559
6 W x 9 H x 1 D inches | 352 pages
$29.95 CAN / $29.95 US
Backlist | Non-Fiction | Bisac: HIS006010
QUOTES OF NOTE
“…an engrossing and delightful book.”
— Georgia Straight
“With her inclusion of contextual references, time- and community-based specificities, and political subjectivities, Cryer’s collection is perfectly positioned for a Hul’q‘umi’num’ Coast Salish-centered critical lens to be theorized and historicized from the work.”
— Canadian Literature
“A book that provides some of the best accounts of Coast Salish mythology available.”
— BC Studies
About the ContributorsChris Arnett
Author and carver Chris Arnett is a fourth generation British Columbian on his mother’s side and a member of the Ngai Tahu, a New Zealand Maori tribe, on his father’s side. With a life-long interest in the pre-history and history of BC and New Zealand, he has researched the archeology of the Stein River Valley for the ‘Nlaka’pamux Nation Development Corporation and has worked for the Sooke Region Museum and Archives on a historical survey of logging on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast, which was published in 1989.Beryl Mildred Cryer
In addition to many newspaper articles on aboriginal myths and history, Beryl Mildred Cryer published one small book, Legends of the Cowichans, in 1949. She died in Welland, Ontario in 1980.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.