Native Historical Accounts of a Coast Salish Culture
The Twana speech community of Coast Salish Indians lived, before 1860, in nine villages in western Washington. Twana Narratives presents first-person, insider accounts of Twana history, society, and religion, as told by natives Frank and Henry Allen to anthropologist William Elmendorf between 1934 and 1940. The Allens were born in the Hood Canal area in the mid-nineteenth century and were fluent in both English and Twana. The vigorous language of the eighty narratives, while predominantly in English, is freely interspersed with key native terms denoting personal names, genealogical connections, and spirit powers and rituals. The texts, unique for the region and the period, reveal a strong sense of the local diversity within the larger Salish area and of the intricate interrelationships between village communities.
The book is an invaluable source of knowledge about Twana culture and society, and a document testifying to the knowledge and skill of those Skokomish Twana historians who were William Elmendorf’s teachers.
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