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History Post-confederation (1867-)

At the Bridge

James Teit and an Anthropology of Belonging

by (author) Wendy Wickwire

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Jun 2019
Post-Confederation (1867-), NON-CLASSIFIABLE, Cultural, Indigenous Studies
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2019
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  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2019
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  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2019
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At the Bridge chronicles the little-known story of James Teit, a prolific ethnographer who, from 1884 to 1922, worked with and advocated for the Indigenous peoples of British Columbia and the northwestern United States. From his base at Spences Bridge, BC, Teit forged a participant-based anthropology that was far ahead of its time. Whereas his contemporaries, including famed anthropologist Franz Boas, studied Indigenous peoples as members of “dying cultures,” Teit worked with them as members of living cultures resisting colonial influence over their lives and lands. Whether recording stories, mapping place-names, or participating in the chiefs’ fight for fair treatment, he made their objectives his own. With his allies, he produced copious, meticulous records; an army of anthropologists could not have achieved a fraction of what he achieved in his short life. Wickwire’s beautifully crafted narrative accords Teit the status he deserves, consolidating his place as a leading and innovative anthropologist in his own right.

About the author

Born in Nova Scotia, Wendy Wickwire lived in Merrit and Lytton, British Columbia while researching her doctoral thesis on Native song. During her ten years of research, she met Similkameen storyteller Harry Robinson and recorded his stories in the critically acclaimed Write It on Your Heart and Nature Power. She also co-authored the award-winning Stein: The Way of the River with her husband Michael M’Gonigle. Wickwire teaches and continues her work in both the School of Environmental Studies and the Department of History at the University of Victoria. She now focuses her research on the oral tradition (oral narratives, songs, life history) of the First Nations peoples of south-central British Columbia.

Wendy Wickwire's profile page


  • Winner, Pierre Savard Book Award, International Council for Canadian Studies
  • Short-listed, Roderick Haig-Brown Award, BC and Yukon Book Prizes
  • Short-listed, Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize, UBC Library
  • Short-listed, Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Historical Writing, BC Historical Federation
  • Winner, Labrecque-Lee Book Award, Canadian Anthropology Society
  • Winner, Best Book in Canadian Studies, The Canadian Studies Network
  • Winner, Clio BC, Canadian Historical Association
  • Winner, Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Short-listed, Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History, Canadian Historical Association
  • Short-listed, Ryga Award for Best Book on Social Justice Awareness in Literature, The George Ryga Society
  • Commended, The Wilson Book Prize, McMaster University

Editorial Reviews

When Wickwire talks about Teit, there is an obvious excitement at the chance to highlight such an interesting character. That excitement comes across on the pages of the book as lively, solid reportage with a healthy dash of deserved reverence. At the Bridge is dense without being dry.

Vancouver Sun

It is an exceptional book about a remarkable man who never received the recognition he deserved for his major input to what was then the new science of anthropology.

Salmon Arm Observer

It is a remarkable book about a remarkable man and deserves a place on the bookshelf of everyone who understands that knowing where we’ve come from is essential to navigating our course to somewhere else and to somewhere that we hope to make better rather than worse.

Walhachin Press

Wickwire has done B.C. scholars and Indigenous peoples an essential service in deftly peeling back the layers of personality, family, and life circumstances of one of Canada’s unsung heroes ... [her] work is not only highly recommended, but a definite must-read for anyone concerned with the unresolved Indigenous “land question” that continues to haunt the province to this day.

The Ormsby Review

Wendy Wickwire’s groundbreaking historical investigation places James Teit as a key figure in early North American anthropology, but also as central to historical Indigenous rights activism in British Columbia.

Julie Cruikshank, author of <EM>Do Glaciers Listen? Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters and Social Imagination</EM>

"Wickwire painstakingly unearths the life and legacy of someone who was undeservedly 'invisibilized'...she does a thorough job of unearthing Teit’s legacy. Her book is filled with detail, anecdotes, and personal reflection. It’s an inspiring must-read for anyone interested in reconciliation today."

Canada's History

Wickwire painstakingly unearths the life and legacy of someone who was undeservedly 'invisibilized'...she does a thorough job of unearthing Teit’s legacy. Her book is filled with detail, anecdotes, and personal reflection. It’s an inspiring must-read for anyone interested in reconciliation today.

Canada's History

Wickwire draws her audience into a style of anthropology that is situated, participatory, and strives to be contextually self-aware at every turn.

Alberta Law Review

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