The Northwest Coast of North America has long been recognized as one of the world’s canonical art zones. This volume records and scrutinizes the history of how and why this has come about. A work of critical historiography, it makes accessible for the first time in one place a broad selection of the 250 years of writing on Northwest Coast art. The contributors – leading scholars, writers, and artists – provide perspectives on the diverse intellectual traditions that have influenced, stimulated, and clashed with each other. In unsettling the conventions that have shaped the idea of Northwest Coast Native art, this book joins the lively, often heated, and now global, debates about what constitutes Native art and who should decide.
Charlotte Townsend-Gault is a professor in the Department of Art History and a faculty associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Jennifer Kramer is an associate professor of anthropology and a curator, Pacific Northwest, at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. ?i-?e-in is a Nuuchaanulth historian, poet, and creator of many things, with forty years' experience as a speaker and ritualist.
Contributors: John Barker, Judith Berman, Martha Black, Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Alice Marie Campbell, Paul Chaat Smith, Alice Marie Campbell, Dana Claxton, Gloria Cranmer Webster, Leslie Dawn, Kristin L. Dowell, Karen Duffek, Aaron Glass, Bruce Granville Miller, Ronald W. Hawker, Ira Jacknis, Aldona Jonaitis, Jennifer Kramer, “i-?e-in, Andrea Laforet, Andrew Martindale, Marie Mauzé, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Marianne Nicolson, Judith Ostrowitz, Daisy Sewid-Smith, Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Scott Watson, and Douglas S. White
The scale of this undertaking is unprecedented in the art historical and anthropological literature of the Northwest Coast and, more broadly, in regard to Indigenous cultural expressions in North America and beyond ... The depth of research contained within its covers and the commitment to multivocality, interdisciplinarity, and consultation, are groundbreaking.
This work is an anthology, akin to improvisational jazz – embroidered around a core theme – but allowing every contributor remarkable latitude, creativity, and individuality. Subtitled “a history of changing ideas,” it indeed questions many long-held assumptions in the field, and posits fresh notions on contemporaneity. It also works to suggest what might be appropriate, respectful, and well-informed means of appreciating, sharing, and studying ceremonial objects, and the Native Northwest cultures which imbued them with life…it is rare indeed that one encounters a book with the capacity to make the reader feel woefully uninformed, while simultaneously tempering with the unflinchingly illustrative personal narratives of Native elders, Haida manga, and thought-provoking arguments on cultural patrimony…to the degree that any criticism can be made of this volume, it would only be that its sheer size may deter the casual observer who sees it on a shelf. This would truly be a shame, since its wealth of information, multiplicity of perspectives, diversity of opinion, and review of historical literature would make it a terrific resource for any library.
This volume balances solid, modem scholarship with an anthology of earlier writings. It will be indispensable for anyone with a scholarly interest in Native American art, and very important for anyone interested in the art and culture of indigenous communities. Summing Up: Essential.