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Walens, Stanley
New York, Chelsea House Publishers, 1992. 120pp, cloth, $34.65
ISBN 1-55546-711-3. (Indians of North America). Distributed by Nelson Canada. CIP

Subject Heading:
Kwakiutl Indians.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by Patricia Fry

Volume 22 Number 5
1994 October

This book examines the history, changing fortunes and current situation of the Kwakiutl. It provides a well-documented and informative treatment of the subject with bibliographical references, an index, and many black-and-white photographs. Also included is a full-colour photographic essay of the ceremonial masks and other objects used by the Kwakiutl.

This tribe thrived for thousands of years on Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland of British Columbia. Their first contact with nonnatives came in the late eighteenth century with the fur traders, who did not interfere with traditional native ways. However, such was not the case with the settlers and missionaries who followed them into the region in the nineteenth century. By enforcing anti-Indian laws, these newcomers sought to destroy Kwakiutl customs and dispossess the Indians of their land.

It's a familiar pattern that has often marked the clash between two cultures, but the wrongs are being addressed in ways followed by other First Nations today. In recent years, the Kwakiutl have worked hard to recover from their unfortunate past through political action for land rights and with cultural revitalization programs for their people's self-respect.

This is a scholarly series that focuses on more than fifty different tribes and outlines the significant place that North American native people have had in North American society. The "Indians of North America" series examines the changing relationship between tribal groups and the federal government and describes each culture in its own context and as it relates to the majority culture.

Readers of this book will have a greater comprehension of the issues and conflicts involving the Kwakiutl. Depending on the demands of the curriculum, school librarians might want to examine other titles in the series

Highly recommended.

Patricia Fry is a teacher-librarian at Erindale Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario

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