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Coming to Shore

Northwest Coast Ethnology, Traditions, and Visions

Marie Mauze

Publication Year: 2004

The Northwest Coast of North America was home to dozens of Native peoples at the time of its first contact with Europeans. The rich artistic, ceremonial, and oral traditions of these peoples and their preservation of cultural practices have made this region especially attractive for anthropological study. Coming to Shore provides a historical overview of the ethnology and ethnohistory of this region, with special attention given to contemporary, theoretically informed studies of communities and issues.

The first book to explore the role of the Northwest Coast in three distinct national traditions of anthropology— American, Canadian, and French—Coming to Shore gives particular consideration to the importance of Claude Lévi-Strauss and structuralism, as well as more recent social theory in the context of Northwest Coast anthropology. In addition contributors explore the blurring boundaries between theoretical and applied anthropology as well as contemporary issues such as land claims, criminal justice, environmentalism, economic development, and museum display. The contribution of Frederica de Laguna provides a historical background to the enterprise of Northwest Coast anthropology, as do the contributions of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Marie Mauzé.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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pp. iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vii


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pp. ix-x

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Editors' Introduction

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pp. xi-xxxviii

This volume represents the culmination of a several-year collaboration among many of the most prominent researchers in the field of Northwest Coast ethnology, centered around a conference held at the College de France in Paris in June 2000. Why organize such a conference and publish a volume...

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Reflections on Northwest Coast Ethnology

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pp. 1-4

With these opening words I would like to thank the organizers for symbolically joining my name to the title of this conference. Nothing could move me more than this appreciation, from my distinguished colleagues, of my emotional and intellectual ties to the Pacific Northwest Coast...

The Legacy of Northwest Coast Research

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Text, Symbol, and Tradition in Northwest Coast Ethnology from Franz Boas to Claude Levi-Strauss

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pp. 7-22

The Americanist anthropology that I practice has evolved to its present stature and structure in great part as a result of the intersection of a culture area—the Northwest Coast—with the work of two seminal scholars—...

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Becoming an Anthropologist: My Debt to European and Other Scholars Who Influenced Me

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pp. 23-52

I met Dr. Marie Mauzé in Canada in 1991 at a symposium on shamanism organized by my former student and present colleague, Dr. Marie-Françoise Guédon, professor of anthropology at the University of Ottawa. We were guests in her large, rambling house in the province of Quebec...

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Crossing Boundaries: Homage to Frederica de Laguna

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pp. 53-62

The development of Northwest Coast studies is marked by underlying features, which may become visible when one is looking closely at individual careers, especially when those careers stand at important cross roads of our field of study. Frederica de Laguna presents us with one of these careers...

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When the Northwest Coast Haunts French Anthropology: A Discreet but Lasting Presence

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pp. 63-86

To speak of French anthropology and the Northwest Coast is first of all to point out the general lack of fieldwork research in North America by French scholars. This might be the result of French intellectuals’ lack of interest since the end of the 18th century with questions and problems regarding...

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Structuralism at the University of British Columbia, 1969 Onward

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pp. 87-90

Claude Lévi-Strauss’s structuralism made a strong impact in European and American universities already in the early 1960s. At that time several of his papers published in English became required readings in Oxford and Cambridge as well as at Harvard and in departments of anthropology...

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Levi-Straussian Structuralism on the Northwest Coast

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pp. 91-106

In this chapter I review the milestones in Claude Lévi-Strauss’s application of structuralist methodology to the anthropology of the Northwest Coast and look at the work of others who have participated in the Lévi-Straussian tradition.1 Finally, I consider why there have been so few...

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Asdiwal: Surveying the Ethnographic Ground

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pp. 107-126

Structuralism is no longer a hot-button topic among scholars, and this is an appropriate time to review several of the published studies in the light of contemporary understandings of the ethnographic context and the original languages. In this essay I look at Lévi-Strauss’s analysis of the Asdiwal story...

Text and Narratives

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"Some Mysterious Means of Fortune": A Look at North Pacific Coast Oral History

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pp. 129-162

Since Franz Boas’s time a considerable body of oral history narratives has been collected from the indigenous peoples of the North Pacific Coast. Some of the major published and unpublished sources are the Kwakwaka’wakw materials of Boas and George Hunt; Coast Tsimshian oral history recorded...

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The Audible Light in the Eyes: In Honor of Claude Levi-Strauss

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pp. 163-182

The whole of France, according to Camus, is a place where human time and nature’s time have mingled past division. And according to a calendar that mingles nature’s time with man-made time like a glass of wine or a vase of flowers, today is summer solstice in the year 2000: a good day to be in Paris...

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Voices of One's Life

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pp. 183-198

In recent years autobiography as a genre has come under a good deal of scrutiny. Is an autobiography a fiction of the self ? A story of a story? ‘‘A novel that dares not speak its name’’ (attributed to Roland Barthes without any further citation in Heilbrun 1988:28)?North American First Nations...

History and Representations

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"It's Only Half a Mile From Savagery to Civilization": American Tourists and Southeastern Alaska Natives in the Late 19th Century

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pp. 201-220

In the last decades of the 19th century, with the establishment of a regular railroad service between the two coasts and the complete ‘‘pacification’’ of the Plains Indian tribes, touring the western part of the United States became a popular activity...

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"A Magic Place": The Northwest Coast Indian Hall at the American Museum of Natural History

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pp. 221-250

When Claude Lévi-Strauss arrived in New York City in the spring of 1941, one of the first things he did was visit the Northwest Coast Indian Hall at the American Museum of Natural History. Two years later, in the pages of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, he extravagantly praised...

Politics and Cultural Heritage

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Evolving Concepts of Tlingit Identity and Clan

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pp. 253-278

It is generally asserted and accepted that the clan is the basic social unit within Tlingit society. This certainly was true for traditional Tlingit culture of the 19th century and remains true for an ever-diminishing number of elders in contemporary Tlingit culture at the start of the 21st century...

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The Intention of Tradition: Contemporary Contexts and Contests of the Hamat'sa Dance

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pp. 279-304

Every year in Alert Bay, a Kwakwaka’wakw community on the central coast of British Columbia, the T’łisalagi’lakw elementary school holds a cultural celebration in which children perform dances and songs learned as part of the standard curriculum. As is now customary for most potlatches...

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Rereading the Ethnographic Record: The Problem of Justice in the Coast Salish World

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pp. 305-322

The ethnographic record of the Northwest Coast lives on in many forms at present. Publications and field notes of our anthropological predecessors who worked with indigenous communities are now both part of the patrimony of the community members and the legacy of anthropology...

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Whiter the Expert Witness: Anthropology in the Post-Delgamuukw Courtroom

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pp. 323-338

The Supreme Court decision in Delgamuukw v. British Columbia (3 SCR 1010 [1997]) established the validity of oral history as evidence in cases concerning issues of aboriginal rights. This marks a reversal of court procedures as have developed in Native rights cases in both the United States and Canada...

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"Defining Ourselves Through Baskets": Museum Autoethnography and the Makah Cultural and Research Center

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pp. 339-362

Since the concept of the Northwest Coast as a culture area was invented,museums have been central to the anthropological study of Native American peoples. They have sponsored ethnographic field research and collected material culture; their resulting publications and exhibitions have profoundly...

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The Geography of Tlingit Character

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pp. 363-384

Studies of place and personhood represent old and venerable domains of inquiry in both the humanities and the social sciences, and recently each has undergone somewhat of a renaissance. The philosopher Aristotle in his...

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Landscape

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pp. 385-406

My title is drawn, of course, from Wallace Stevens’s poem ‘‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.’’ This spare, imagist poem, reminiscent of Haiku, is theoretically interesting because it plays with and to a certain degree deconstructs the semiotic relation between human and nature...

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Contemporary Makah Whaling

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pp. 407-420

Qwi-dich-cha-at-h or Makah people inhabit the outer coast of what is now Washington State and the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. According to oral traditions and the archaeological record, Makah people have been hunting whales and other sea mammals and fishing in the Pacific Ocean...


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pp. 421-496

List of Contributors

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pp. 497-504


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pp. 505-508

E-ISBN-13: 9780803204324
E-ISBN-10: 0803204329

Page Count: 508
Illustrations: Illus., map
Publication Year: 2004