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Potlatch

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Beau Dick: Devoured by Consumerism
Format: Hardcover
Grade Levels: 10; 11; 12; University/College;

Accompanying an exhibition of Beau Dick’s work, this beautifully illustrated volume distills his powerful argument against our unsustainable way of living.

"With this body of work, Beau intended to launch his most overt critique of a system that he knew was unsustainable, in favour of a return to the cultural values of his people, and his profound generosity compelled him to share these values as widely as possible." - LaTiesha Fazakas

Beau Dick (1955 - 2017) was celebrated far beyond his hometown of Alert Bay, B.C., for both his political activism and his creation of striking, larger-than-life carved masks inspired by the traditional stories of the Kwakwaka'wakw. Dick's multi-faceted engagement with Kwakwaka'wakw culture included carving (which he learned from Northwest Coast artists such as Henry Hunt, Doug Cranmer, and Bill Reid), storytelling, and dancing.

As a high-ranking member of Hamat'sa, the prestigious Kwakwaka'wakw secret society centred on the story of a ravenous, man-eating spirit, Dick drew on all these art forms to create regalia for and participate in elaborate ceremonies that enacted Kwakwaka'wakw cosmology. Devoured by Consumerism shares nearly two dozen of these masks: vivid, unforgettable creations, made with traditional and contemporary methods and materials, depicting figures like Cannibal Raven, Nu-Tla-Ma (Fool Dancer), and Bookwus (Wild Man of the Woods).

Texts by LaTiesha Fazakas, John Cussans, and Candice Hopkins outline the stories that the masks depict, consider the inescapable parallels between Hamat'sa and the consumerism of capitalist society, and grapple with the philosophy that animates Hamat'sa - one that seeks to confront and, ultimately, master the voracious appetites inside us all.

Educator Information
A useful book for the study of art and culture.

Devoured by Consumerism is Beau Dick's aesthetic response to Western capitalist values and an overt critique of the unchecked commercialism of capitalist society. The intention with this hardcover publication is to contrast the Kwakwaka'wakw economic and legal system of potlatching, which also functions as a way of maintaining and preserving oral history, again Western society's system of capitalism. The book references the Hamat'sa ceremony during potlatch, wherein the Hamat'sa cannibals' insatiable hunger and consumption is 'tamed' ritually through the dance. The power to control one's hunger is considered much greater than the power of hunger itself. This book works to critique the West's ravenous need to devour and consumer by presenting works that highlight this Kwakwaka'wakw worldview. 

Additional Information
96 pages | 8.00" x 9.00" 

 

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
Authentic Indigenous Artwork
$30.00

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Potlatch at Gitsegukla: William Beynon's 1945 Field Notebooks
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

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.

Authentic Canadian Content
$39.95

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