Three Athapaskan Ethnographies
Diamond Jenness on the Sekani, Tsuu T'ina and Wet'suwet'en, 1921-1924
ISBN 978-1-77244-010-2 • 380 pages • 5.5 x 8.5 • paperback • includes new introduction by Barnett Richling • 30 b/w photographs • 13 sketches
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"All three Athapaskan peoples are strong and thriving today. The Sarcee have negotiated the repatriation of sacred objects such as the Starlight Bundle in 1989. The Sekani took adhesion to Treaty 8 in 2000 and the Wet’suwet’en were plaintiffs in the monumental Delgamuukw court action. ... In republishing these three ethnographies together, Richling has given First Nations and academic scholars an opportunity to compare traditional Athapaskan cultures and recent histories."
– Robin Riddington, BC Studies
"Unlike his fellow scholars, Jenness did not essentialize or exoticize his indigenous informants, nor did he create a monolithic other. He viewed them as key collaborators who contributed to the crafting of his ethnographies, and he showed great respect for each informant, as well as recognized and appreciated the cultural diversity among the groups he studied.”
– Nadia Ferrara, Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology, McGill University, 2015
Available together in a single volume for the first time are Canadian anthropologist Diamond Jenness’ pioneering studies of three Athapaskan nations: the prairie-dwelling Tsuu T’ina of Alberta, and the Sekani and Wet’suwet’en in British Columbia’s mountainous northern interior. Based on his wide-ranging interviews with elders in the 1920s, these richly detailed and sympathetic ethnographies comprise a valuable record of the histories and cultures of indigenous communities, like myriad others across the country and around the world, struggling to preserve their autonomy and traditions in the face of relentless assimilative forces.
This edition contains original black and white photography, Jenness’ own drawings, and a wealth of stories collected first-hand from his informants. And in a new preface, Barnett Richling sketches the disciplinary and institutional background to early northern Athapaskan researches, and describes the local conditions Jenness met, and the methods he employed, while in the field. The work of one of Canada’s most distinguished anthropologists, this trio of finely observed and meticulously drawn accounts remains fascinating reading to this day.
BARNETT RICHLING is a senior scholar in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Winnipeg, and author of In Twilight and in Dawn: A Biography of Diamond Jenness (McGill Queens, 2012).
With a New Preface by Barnett Richling
“… the description [Jenness] gives us of the Indian worlds he visited are rich in the kind of detail that only a trusted and sympathetic friend would be told.”
– Robin Riddington, 1971