________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 23 . . . . February 19, 2016


Captive of Friendly Cove: Based on the Secret Journals of John Jewitt.

Rebecca Goldfield. Illustrated by Mike Short.
Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2015.
162 pp., trade pbk. $25.95 (US).
ISBN 978-1-936218-11-0.

Subject Headings:
Jewitt, John Rogers, 1783-1821-Juvenile literature.
Jewitt, John Rogers, 1783-1821-Comic books, strips, etc.
Nootka Indians-Juvenile literature.
Nootka Indians-Comic books, strips, etc.
Indian captivities-Juvenile literature.
Indian captivities-Comic books, strips, etc.
Nootka Sound (B.C.)-History-Juvenile literature.
Nootka Sound (B.C.)-History-Comic books, strips, etc.
Graphic novels.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

Review by Val Ken Lem.

**** /4



I quickly realized that to survive, I would have to conform to the Nootkan people's customs and mode of thinking.

Throughout that summer, I learned more of the language.

I'm hungry... "Hah welks." [speech caption]

The people call this place "Yuquot"...

"Yuquot." [speech caption]

...Which means "where the wind blows from all directions." (from four panels comprising p. 61)

Captive From Friendly Cove is a gripping graphic novel that recounts the actual captivity of John Jewitt and one shipmate by the Mowachaht people of Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Jewitt was a teenaged blacksmith and armorer in Hull, England, when he joined the crew of the American trading vessel Boston that sailed into Nootka Sound on March 12, 1803, in search of fresh water and timber to repair the vessel. The story begins with this fateful arrival and continues in roughly chronological fashion until July, 1805, when Jewitt and shipmate Thompson regained their freedom with the aid of the captain of a trading vessel that provided their first chance at rescue.

      The tale unfolds chiefly as a narrative told by Jewitt although speech captions are also used. In the early chapters, it is puzzling how well Jewitt is able to communicate with his captor and protector, Maquinna, the head chief of the village. If one were to dig into the source materials that inspired this graphic version, this is clarified as Maquinna had picked up some words and phrases from previous contact with traders. Similarly, wondering about the veracity of the drawings including facial painting of the indigenous people, their style of dress, housing, etcetera, one can rest assured that Goldfield and illustrator Short were informed by research including drawings from James Cook's and several Spanish sea captains' illustrated publications describing their own explorations in the decades leading to the time of the story. They also had Jewitt's own narrative and information from descendants to help ensure a respectable degree of authenticity in the drawings. Anthropologists including Richard Inglis are also credited in the acknowledgements for helping Goldfield to understand and retell this story.

      When the Boston arrived in the cove, the Mowachaht people seemed very friendly and took great interest in Jewitt's iron work. Following a great insult to the Maquinna, the warriors carried out a plan to kill all of the crew and take possession of the ship and its cargo of trade goods. Eventually, it is explained that this was in part a plan of retribution for past wrongs committed by earlier traders. Knowing that Jewitt could make knives and other useful metal implements, Maquinna saved Jewitt from certain death and took him into his household as a family slave. Upon the discovery that another sailor survived, Jewitt lied and pleaded for his life, claiming that Thompson, the ship's sail maker, was his own father. Time and again, Jewitt found comfort in having a fellow whiteman as a companion although their temperaments were far apart.

      The narrative includes details about daily life, seasonal moves to locations in quest for food and winter shelter, and ongoing cycles of satiation and near starvation. Jewitt describes how he began to keep a journal as he was urged to do by his illiterate shipmate as a means of documenting their lives in captivity. Luckily, it was not destroyed when Maquinna learned about it, but he had to write in secrecy ever after. Cultural events such a potlatch and an ill understood ceremony that followed the killing of a black bear are recounted. Warfare against a neighbouring tribe is recalled. The marriage of Jewitt to a young woman, Eu stoch ee exqua, the daughter of another chief, is explained as Maquinna's attempt to encourage his captive to forget his old life and fully integrate into his new life.

      Captive of Friendly Cove is an adventure tale that a reader will not want to put down. At the same time, it describes a way of life that would be soon altered with the permanent settlement of the Pacific Coast by white settlers. The story illustrates conflict between the indigenous peoples and some of the early European and American newcomers. Cultural misunderstanding and hubris on the part of the newcomers, who regarded their own societies as superior and "civilized", are aspects of colonization that readers may identify. The concluding pages includes a map of Jewitt's journey that included, upon his rescue, travel to China where sea otter pelts from the Pacific coast commanded huge prices, to his return to New England where he settled. He quickly self published his journal and subsequently worked with an editor, Richard Alsop, to publish an expanded version of his "Narrative". He died in Hartford, CT in 1821 at the age of 37. The end matter includes a list of commonly used Nootkan (Mowachaht) words with phonetic pronunciations that Jewitt published as part of his "Narrative".

      In a brief introduction, Goldfield explains that she was inspired by a recent retelling of Jewitt's story, entitled White Slaves of Maquinna (Victoria, BC: Heritage House, 2000). In fact, Jewitt's "Narrative" has appeared in some two dozen editions, under varying titles, in the USA, UK, and Canada, since it was first published in Middleton, CT, in 1815. It is unfortunate that Goldfield does not include a bibliography of the chief works that she used for background information, nor links to open access digital copies of the "Narrative". To rectify this shortcoming, I direct readers to the Internet Archive where many versions are available, including the 1815 edition published as A Narrative of the Adventures and Sufferings of John R. Jewitt. Many of the more recent versions include clarifying editorial commentary and illustrations. Also of interest is the published diary, A Journal Kept at Nootka Sound by John R. Jewitt ... Interspersed with Some Account of the Natives, Their Manners and Customs. Boston: Printed for the Author, 1807. A digitized copy is available from Early Canadiana Online.

Highly Recommended.

Val Ken Lem, a book historian, is a collections librarian at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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