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 Featured Title
Standing Up with Ga'axsta'las
Jane Constance Cook and the Politics of Memory, Church, and Custom
Leslie A. Robertson   Kwagu’l Gixsam Clan  

$125.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 10/7/2012
ISBN: 9780774823845    

$39.95 Paperback
Release Date: 3/15/2013
ISBN: 9780774823852    

596 Pages


About the Book

Shortlisted, 2015 François-Xavier Garneau Medal, Canadian Historical Association

Winner, 2014 CCWH Book Award, Canadian Committee on Women’s History

Winner, 2013 Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize, American Society for Ethnohistory

Winner, 2013 CLIO Prize for BC, Canadian Historical Association

Finalist, 2013 Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize, BC Book Prizes

Winner, 2013 Aboriginal History Prize, Canadian Historical Association

Co-Winner 2013 K. D. Srivastava Prize, UBC Press

Standing Up with Ga'axsta'las is a compelling conversation with the colonial past initiated by the descendants of Kwakwaka'wakw leader and activist, Jane Constance Cook (1870-1951). Working in collaboration, Robertson and Cook's descendants open this history, challenging dominant narratives that misrepresent her motivations for criticizing customary practices and eventually supporting the potlatch ban. Drawing from oral histories, archival materials, and historical and anthropological works, they offer a nuanced portrait of a high-ranked woman who was a cultural mediator; devout Christian; and activist for land claims, fishing and resource rights, and adequate health care. Ga'axsta'las testified at the McKenna-McBride Royal Commission, was the only woman on the executive of the Allied Indian Tribes of BC, and was a fierce advocate for women and children. This powerful meditation on memory documents how the Kwagu'l Gixsam revived their dormant clan to forge a positive social and cultural identity for future generations through feasting and potlatching.

About the Author(s)

Leslie A. Robertson is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. The Kwagu'l Gixsam Clan includes approximately one thousand members descended from a common ancestor. Their cultural root is Tsaxis (Fort Rupert).

Table of Contents

Foreword / Nella Nelson


Introduction: "Having Oneness on Your Face"

Part I -- The Living Text: Traces of Jane Cook

Part II -- Dukwa'esala (Looking Around On the Beach): Ancestors

Part III -- Stranger Than Fiction: Surviving the Missionary

Part IV -- "Children of the Potlatch System," 1888-1912

Part V -- "We As the Suppressed People," 1913-18

Part VI -- "We Are the Aboriginee, Which Is Not a Citizen," 1918-27

Part VII -- "With the Potlatch Custom in My Blood," 1930-39

Part VIII -- One Voice from Many: Citizenship, 1940-48

Part IX -- A Tower of Strength: Word Memorials, 1951

Part X -- Dlaxw'it'sine' (For Your Standing), Feasting





"Standing up with Ga'axsta'las breaks new ground in collaborative research. Leslie Robertson and the Kwagu'l Gixsam Clan have produced a volume that addresses recursive interpretations of Jane Cook's life and times from oral histories and archival documents. This book will enliven conversations about Northwest Coast anthropology for years to come."
-- Julie Cruikshank, Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

"This profound book, which skilfully weaves biography, history, and scholarly discussions, offers a nuanced way of thinking about Native culture and its political uses within communities and in the larger society. A must-read for specialists of the Northwest Coast, it will also inspire scholars and students in Native studies, women's studies, ethnohistory, and sovereignty studies."
-- Michael E. Harkin, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Wyoming

Sample Chapter

Sample Chapter [PDF]

Related Topics

Aboriginal Studies

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of Standing Up with Ga'axsta'las from UTP Distribution at:

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