Where Happiness Dwells
A History of the Dane-zaa First Nations
The Dane-zaa people have lived in the Peace River area of northern British Columbia for thousands of years. Elders documented the people’s history and worldview in oral narratives and passed on their knowledge through storytelling. Language loss in the youngest generation, however, threatens to break the bonds of knowledge transmission.
At the request of the Doig River First Nations anthropologists Robin and Jillian Ridington present a history of the Dane-zaa people based on oral histories collected over a half century of fieldwork. Taking a poetic form that does justice to the rhythm of Dane-zaa storytelling, these powerful stories span the full length of history, from the story of creation to the fur trade, from the arrival of missionaries to cases heard in the Supreme Court of Canada. Elders document key events as they explain the very nature of the universe and how people and animals learned to live together on the land.
These oral histories, told by one of the last First Nations to experience the effects of colonialism, not only preserve traditional knowledge for future generations, they also tell the inspiring story of how the Dane-zaa learned to succeed in the modern world.
This book will appeal to anyone interested in Aboriginal studies, BC history, anthropology, or oral traditions.
- 2014, Commended - Aboriginal History Prize, Canadian Historical Association
- 2014, Winner - K.D. Srivastava Prize, UBC Press
From the indigenous perspective, a writer is accountable first and foremost to the people he or she writes about. The writing must proceed in the form of stories, in the voice of speakers addressing people they know. This book is one of great respect and insight that will be appreciated by scholars and enjoyed by all its readers.
This book offers a highly original yet rigorous view of Dane-zaa culture and history. It will be an important book for all scholars of First Nations ... and for First Nations seeking a model to write their own histories.
Preface, with Linguistic Note and Pronunciation Guide
Introduction: Trails of Time
1 The Dane-zaa Creation Story
2 Tsááyaa, the Culture Hero
3 Shin kaa, the Vision Quest
4 Archaeology, Prehistory, and Oral History
5 The Early Fur Trade
6 The Later Fur Trade and the Hudson’s Bay Company Killings
7 Priests and Dreamers
8 The First and Last Dreamers
9 Kinship and Community
10 The 1899 North West Mounted Police Census and Treaty 8
11 Seasonal Rounds in British Columbia and Alberta
12 The 1918 Flu Epidemic
13 Losing Suu Na chii k’chige, the Great Fire, and Petersen’s Crossing
14 The Place Where Happiness Dwells, Indian Reserve 172
15 Today and Tomorrow
16 Dane-zaa Stories and the Anthropological Literature
As I Remember It
Teachings (Ɂəms tɑɁɑw) from the Life of a Sliammon Elder
Dispersed but Not Destroyed
A History of the Seventeenth-Century Wendat People
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