The Bella Coola Indians
Published: November 1992© 1992
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 1435 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.24
1435 Pages, 6.00 x 9.24 x 3.60 in
The classic ethnographic study of the Bella Coola (Nuxalk) Indians of British Columbia, originally published in 1948 and long out of print, is now available again. It is both a comprehensive guide to Nuxalk culture and a central document in the study of ethnographic methods.
Between 1922 and 1924, T.F. McIlwraith, then an anthropologist with the National Museum of Canada, spent part of each year with the Nuxalk, acquiring an exhaustive knowledge of their culture. In these volumes he documented the structure of Nuxalk society, the practice of religion, and the role of mythology and the supernatural. He discussed the potlatch and described ceremonies and beliefs surrounding birth, adolescence, marriage, and death. Separate chapters deal with warfare, games, and songs.
Of particular interest is a lengthy and detailed description of the winter ceremonial. That McIlwraith was granted the unprecedented privilege of participation in one of these is an indication of the high esteem in which the Nuxalk held him.
The two-volume set now contains a new introduction by John Barker which places the work in its historical context and reveals new information about McIlwraith's methods.
‘In the history of Canadian anthropology, T.F. McIlwraith’s The Bella Coola Indians occupies a place similar to that of H.A. Innis’s The Fur Trade in Canada in Canadian historical writing’
Ramsay Cook , BC Studies