Tsek’ehne (Sekani)

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Potlatch at Gitsegukla: William Beynon's 1945 Field Notebooks
Authors:
Marjorie M Halpin
Format: Paperback

William Beynon was born in 1888 in Victoria to a Welsh father and a Tsimshian mother. He was an accomplished ethnographer and had a long career documenting the traditions of the Tsimshian, Nisga'a, and Gitksan. In 1945 he attended and actively participated in five days of potlatches and totem pole raisings at Gitksan village of Gitsegukla. There he compiled four notebooks containing detailed and often verbatim information about the events he witnessed. For over 50 years these notebooks have seen limited circulation among specialists, who have long recognized them as the most perceptive and complete account of potlatching ever recorded. In Potlatch at Gitsegukla the almost 200 pages of the notebooks are published for the first time. Sketches and a selection of photographs taken by Beynon are also included (augmented by photographs taken by Wilson Duff in 1952). In addition to meticulously transcribing and annotating the text of the notebooks, Margaret Anderson and Marjorie Halpin provide a comprehensive introduction that puts Beynon's account into a Gitskan cultural perspective, as well as extensive appendices listing names, places, and Gitskan terms in the notebooks. There is also an excellent timeline of key events in Gitskan history by James McDonald and Jennifer Joseph. William Beynon's notebooks are among the most significant written records of Northwest coast potlatching and are an unsurpassed resource documenting these activities among the Gitskan. This rare, first-hand, ethnographic account of a potlatch reveals the wonderful complexities of the events that took place in Gitsegukla in 1945.

$39.95

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Tse-loh-ne (The People at the End of the Rocks): Journey Down the Davie Trail
Authors:
Keith Billington
Format: Paperback

The Tse-loh-ne from the Sekani First Nation were known as "The People at the End of the Rocks." This small band of people lived and thrived in one of BC's most challenging and remote areas, 1600 kilometres north of Prince George in the Rocky Mountain Trench. They were isolated and nomadic, and survived by following the seasons, walking hundreds of kilometres each year, hunting and harvesting food as they travelled.

In 1988, Keith Billington, a former outpost nurse in the Northwest Territories, worked as the band manager for the isolated Sekani Indian Band at Fort Ware. In addition to his role as an administrator, he performed dental work, sutured victims of violence, delivered babies that wouldn't wait and prepared deceased persons for burial. Several years into his new job, Billington was invited on a traditional Sekani trek. The travellers would follow the Aatse Davie Trail using pack dogs, traversing 460 kilometres in some of BC's roughest terrain. Like the Tse-loh-ne before them, they carried little food, relying instead on what they could hunt or gather.

Throughout the twenty-five days it took the party to hike from Lower Post to Fort Ware, Keith and his companions suffered cold, starvation and injury. They faced grizzly bears, swollen rivers and the incessant rain so typical of northern BC. Their adventures offer a poignant glimpse into the hardships and rigours of the Sekani people, who have one foot in their past and the other in their future--a people who reluctantly try to adapt to today's values knowing that change is inevitable.

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$22.95

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