cover image Secwépemc People, Land, and Laws: Yeri7 Re Stsq’ey’s-Kucw

Secwépemc People, Land, and Laws: Yeri7 Re Stsq’ey’s-Kucw

Marianne and Ronald E. Ignace. McGill-Queen’s Univ. (CDC, U.S. dist.; GTW, Canadian dist.), $39.95 trade paper (528p) ISBN 978-0-7735-5130-5

This carefully crafted, well-documented study of a First Nation in south central British Columbia, written by two Simon Fraser University Indigenous studies scholars, is an impressive achievement that connects lessons preserved from a 10,000-year history to ongoing land rights struggles. It’s the product of three decades of interviews and a major collation of research, bringing together the work of ethnographers, linguists, historians, geologists, and paleoecologists in a way that respectfully confirms oral histories. The book celebrates the Secwépemc people, who, despite the ravages of colonialism, maintain a vital connection to their language, laws, and customs. This richly illustrated merging of voices centers traditional indigenous knowledge by including bilingual sections that translate cultural elements, including foundational stories, a meal prayer, a series of land descriptors, and a guide to proper sweat lodge etiquette. Highly accessible explorations of kinship systems developed over millennia lead to discussions of governance and decision-making, both of which helped inform the development of the early 20th-century Indian rights movement and, the authors hope, will provide a template for future action to preserve both their culture and their unsurrendered lands. This comprehensive work makes valuable contributions to cross-cultural understanding while providing an excellent model for other First Nations reclaiming and preserving their heritage. (Oct.)