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Social Science Native American Studies

Standing Up with G_a'ax_sta'las

Jane Constance Cook and the Politics of Memory, Church, and Custom

by (author) Leslie A. Robertson & the Kwagu'l Gix_sa_m Clan

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2012
Native American Studies, Native Americans, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2012
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2013
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2012
    List Price

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Standing Up with G_a’ax_sta’las tells the remarkable story of Jane Constance Cook (1870-1951), a controversial Kwakwa_ka_’wakw leader and activist who lived during a period of enormous colonial upheaval. Working collaboratively, Robertson and Cook’s descendants draw on oral histories and textual records to create a nuanced portrait of a high-ranked woman, a cultural mediator, devout Christian, and Aboriginal rights activist who criticized potlatch practices for surprising reasons. This powerful meditation on memory and cultural renewal documents how the Kwagu’l Gix_sa_m have revived their long-dormant clan in the hopes of forging a positive cultural identity for future generations through feasting and potlatching.

About the authors


  • Short-listed, The François-Xavier Garneau Medal, Canadian Historical Association
  • Winner, CCWH Book Award, Canadian Committee on Women’s History
  • Winner, Aboriginal History Prize, Canadian Historical Association
  • Joint winner, K.D. Srivastava Prize for Excellence in Scholarly Publishing
  • Short-listed, Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize, BC Book Prizes
  • Winner, Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize, American Society for Ethnohistory
  • Winner, CLIO Prize for BC, Canadian Historical Association

Editorial Reviews

In this most innovative book, Robertson and the Gix_sa_m Clan collectively write a book that will quickly become a methodological model for ethnohistorians. The non-linear narrative, with the focus on an interaction between the anthropologist, the indigenous community (Cook’s descendants), and the memory of Cook, provides a way of dealing with memory and history through the presentation of multiple voices. As one committee member stated, “The book models a collaborative process that more and more of us will be challenged to undertake. I think the future of our profession is that we will be expected to write with, rather than about, Indigenous communities. That this book presented a cohesive narrative about a woman whose life was so complicated and whose memory has been so contested by weaving together the voices of so many contributors is stunning to me.”

Wheeler-Voegelin Prize, American Society for Ethnohistory

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