UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

sq̓əq̓ip : gathered together Wilson, Jordan P. H. 2015

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Notice for Google Chrome users:
If you are having trouble viewing or searching the PDF with Google Chrome, please download it here instead.

Item Metadata


24-ubc_2016_february_wilson_jordan.pdf [ 2.11MB ]
JSON: 24-1.0223194.json
JSON-LD: 24-1.0223194-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 24-1.0223194-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 24-1.0223194-rdf.json
Turtle: 24-1.0223194-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 24-1.0223194-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 24-1.0223194-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

sqəq ip  – GATHERED TOGETHER  by  Jordan P.H. Wilson  B.A., The University of British Columbia, 2011  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Anthropology)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)   December 2015  © Jordan P.H. Wilson, 2015 ii  Abstract  The Musqueam First Nation are a hənqəminəm-speaking people whose traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory encompasses what is now the Greater Vancouver area. Our main village and reserve is located at mouth of the Fraser River, and the ancestors of present-day Musqueam people have lived in this estuary for thousands of years. This thesis responds to a two-part research question: what forms does biography take, and what role does it have in the contemporary Musqueam community? As a Musqueam community member and researcher, I provide an ethnographic account of two distinct experiences to answer this question: a life history recording project conducted with a Musqueam Elder, as well as several sessions spent with an advisory group for the community-based museum exhibit cəsnaʔəm: the city before the city. By drawing on the first account, I underscore the continued importance of place and place-based practices, particularly in remembering and sharing lived experiences. I also highlight the personal nature of how individuals relate to place. By drawing on the second account, I demonstrate a) the inseparability of narrating lived experiences and carrying forward our community’s distinct values, worldviews, laws, history, practices (otherwise known as snəweyəɬ – teachings received since childhood); b) the collective nature of telling and remembering biographies and community history; and c) how this form of oral tradition – of life-telling – requires its own set of skills. I conclude that conversation, and more particularly, listening to expert storytellers gathered together, influenced not only the curation of an exhibit, but also how it can potentially inform other forms of representation such as biography and ethnography. This thesis seeks to contribute to the literature and discourses around the production of Indigenous life histories, oral history, Coast Salish and Northwest Coast ethnography, and the representation of Indigenous communities, particularly in the realm of museum work. iii  Preface   This thesis is original, unpublished, independent work by the author, Jordan Wilson. This research was approved by the UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board: Certificate Number H13-00601; Principal Investigator: Dr. Susan Rowley. This research was also approved by the Musqueam Indian Band.  iv  Table of Contents  Abstract ......................................................................................................................................... ii	  Preface .......................................................................................................................................... iii	  Table of Contents..........................................................................................................................iv	  List of Figures ...............................................................................................................................vi	  Acknowledgements ..................................................................................................................... vii	  Dedication......................................................................................................................................ix	  Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................................1	  1.1	   Musqueam and research .....................................................................................................3	  1.2	   Life history and anthropology ............................................................................................4	  Chapter 2: A Life History Project................................................................................................9	  2.1	   Life history and place .........................................................................................................9	  2.2	   Issues in the process..........................................................................................................13	  Chapter 3: Gathered Together ...................................................................................................15	  3.1	   An exhibit advisory group ................................................................................................16	  3.2	   Teachings and lived experiences ......................................................................................20	  3.3	   Teachings at work.............................................................................................................24	  3.4	   Distributed biographies.....................................................................................................26	  3.5	   The importance of listening ..............................................................................................31	  3.6	   Conversation as genre.......................................................................................................32	  3.7	   Kitchen table talk..............................................................................................................33	  Chapter 4: Conclusion.................................................................................................................43	  v  Epilogue ........................................................................................................................................47	  Bibliography.................................................................................................................................48	   vi  List of Figures  Figure 1 Installation view of sqəqip – gathered together. Photograph courtesy of Reese Muntean........................................................................................................................................................41	  Figure 2 Gallery view of cəsnaʔəm: the city before the city at the Museum of Anthropology. Photograph courtesy of Reese Muntean. .......................................................................................42	    vii  Acknowledgements First and foremost, I gratefully acknowledge and thank those I have had (and continue to have) the privilege of learning from, namely the group of well-respected Musqueam community leaders – si:yém – I was able to spend time with. These individuals are Wendy Grant-John, Mary Roberts, Howard E. Grant, Howard J. Grant, Larry Grant, and John ‘Dickie’ Louis. I would also like to thank the Elder whom I worked with. hay ce:p qə. I also acknowledge the cəsnaʔəm: the city before the city curatorial team: Viviane Gosselin, Larissa Grant, Terry Point, Susan Roy, Susan Rowley, Leona Sparrow, and Jason Woolman. A special thank you to Auntie Leona for her mentorship. As noted in the Preface, the experiences I write about are part of research projects formally approved by the Musqueam Department of Treaty, Lands, and Resources, who implement Musqueam research guidelines and protocols. I thank the staff, whose names have already been mentioned, for their assistance. I thank my research supervisor, Susan Rowley, for her continuous encouragement and support, and for keeping me on-track and well fed. Thank you to my supervisory committee member Bruce Granville Miller for his advice, guidance, and his legendary rapid turn-around.  Research for this project was financially supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship. The School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, NM, also supported me in the form of travel funding and a generous book allowance when I participated in the Anne Ray Internship program – thank you to SAR, particularly the staff in the Indian Arts Research Centre, as well as the Anne Ray Charitable Trust who made the opportunity possible. Additional support for my studies was provided by the University of British Columbia. Thank you for funding this work. viii  There are many people who have inspired, educated, and supported me throughout my Masters program – there are simply too many to name here. I therefore express my eternal gratitude to the members of the Musqueam community and the UBC community who have helped me along the way, as well as to my SAR cohort.  Thank you to my family for their love and support, particularly my older (but not bigger) brother Aaron for his patient proofreading and dependable advice. Lastly, I use this opportunity to thank my partner Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, who continues to challenge and support me, and help me grow as a person.  ciyətalə cən tə ɬwəɬəp nə si:yém siyeyeʔ. I thank you my respected friends and relatives.    ix  Dedication        For my grandparents1  Chapter 1: Introduction What follows are some observations on biography, based on my background as a scholar pursuing community-based research and curation somewhere in between the disciplines of anthropology, Indigenous studies, and museum studies. I draw primarily from my experience working with, within and for my own community, the Musqueam First Nation, in hopes that what I have learned may be of use to others in similar circumstances.  In reflecting on my work, I have come to the realization much of it has been in proximity to biography – working with my community to assist in the documentation, interpretation and portrayal of lived experiences for multiple audiences. In this thesis I examine two of these experiences, presenting them as personal encounters with biography as it manifests in my work and my community. The first encounter was a collaborative recording of an Elder’s life history. The second experience was a series of discussions with respected community leaders that took place during the development of a community-based exhibit, cəsnaʔəm: the city before the city. These encounters, particularly the latter, have been formative for my understanding of not only who I am and where I come from, but also in understanding the role of biography in the fabric of my community: past, present, and future. I share the opinion of Métis literature scholar Warren Cariou (2015), who observes,  What I call ‘life-telling’ is something that we all do, no matter where we come from or where we intend to go. And yet, possibly because of its omnipresence, the oral narrativizing of our lives has not received nearly as much critical attention as its textual counterpart. This lack of attention to oral life-narratives is even more surprising in the case of Indigenous cultures, which are generally recognized to be ‘more oral’ than Western cultures (if one can speak of degrees of orality). Certainly, in Indigenous cultures, oral stories are more crucial as repositories of cultural value than in most other cultures. (n.p.)  2  This writing seeks to remedy this, at least in one small way, as I believe Cariou’s observations are particularly true of conversation and visiting, or, the ways in which gathering together and sharing stories serves as a context for oral narrativizing of our lives. In sharing my observations, then, I seek to call attention to the importance of conversation, of being gathered together, sharing and listening. I have come to understand this practice as a distinct form, or genre, of oral tradition, one deeply connected with biography. In the remainder of this chapter I provide some context for the reader, pertaining to my community, my position as a scholar and First Nations community member, as well as Musqueam research protocols. I will then provide some context of how I understand life history as a method and product with a discussion of pertinent literature, particularly within the discipline of anthropology, primarily to illustrate a shift in how they are produced and received. In Chapter Two, I discuss my attempt to collaboratively produce one Elder’s life history within this context. I share not only what I gained during this experience, but also new understandings gained from a retrospective point of view. In other words, at that point in time, I was unable to grasp what was perhaps right in front of me. I use this encounter as a segue way into Chapter Three, where I examine my experience of listening to respected community leaders in conversation to one another, and within this examination, attempt to illustrate several points: a) the inseparability of narrating lived experiences and carrying forward our community’s distinct values, worldviews, laws, history, practices (otherwise known as snəweyəɬ – teachings received since childhood); b) the collective nature of telling and remembering biographies and community history; and c) how this form of oral tradition – of life-telling – requires its own set of skills. Ultimately I seek to convey how conversation, more particularly, listening to expert storytellers 3  gathered together, influenced not only the curation of an exhibit, but also how it can potentially inform other forms of representation such as biography and ethnography. 1.1 Musqueam and research The hənqəminəm-speaking Musqueam First Nation is located within the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Our main village and reserve is located at mouth of the Fraser River, and the ancestors of present day Musqueam people have lived in this estuary for thousands of years. Our traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory encompasses what is now the Greater Vancouver area. As the late chief Delbert Guerin once noted: “In the short space of a hundred years, the City of Vancouver has grown to a huge monster which has almost swallowed our whole land” (as cited in Roy, 2010, p. 21) In spite of this displacement, our community has persisted, maintaining the ways of our ancestors, and we continue to affirm our connection to our territory in myriad ways. One form of affirmation has been in the realm of litigation; our struggles have resulted in precedent–setting legal decisions whose influence has been noted across the Commonwealth.1 Another form is in the domain of representation and education as an important interface between our community and the public – particularly in our relationship to museum display, the University of British Columbia, and the media.2 This thesis is connected to this latter relationship. In my work as a student, curator, and writer, I attempt to remain cognizant about my accountability to my extended family and broader community relations. As such, I am careful about how I go about this work. My work is informed by a background in Indigenous Studies,                                                 1 See Reynolds (2005) for discussion of one example, Guerin v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada (1984). 2 For several examples of this, see: Ames (1999); Baird (1997); Fortney (2009); Pleshakov (2010); Roy (1999, 2002, 2010); Sparrow (1976). 4  which foregrounded responsibility, reciprocity, and ethics in the form of Indigenous research methodologies.3 I essentially follow the same questions Audra Simpson (2014) asks herself in thinking through her methodology in doing research with her own community, the Mohawks of Kahnawá:ke: “Will this hurt anyone?” and “Can I go home after this?” (p. 198). While I am aware I am writing about my community, I make clear I do not write for my community, or attempt to tell the story of it. As a relatively young person, and someone who grew up outside the community, I acknowledge there is a lot I do not know and cannot know, cannot represent, or is not my place to represent. The reader will note the following discussion does not share too much in the way of the details about the lived experiences, or biographies, of the individuals to whom I refer. I do not present the narrative of any particular individual, instead focusing on the insights gained in regards to methodology and general themes. 1.2 Life history and anthropology Several years ago, when I set out to collaboratively record and produce the life history of an Elder from my community, I was conscious of how complex an endeavour this could be. Reading on the subject heightened my awareness of many – often interconnected – issues present in this kind of work: of collaboration and the researcher-participant relationship, of voice and authorship, of translating the spoken to the written, of conflicting histories, and of reducing the Elder and the Elder’s life to that of an ‘informant’ on culture or broad historical patterns, to name but a few. The discourse on Indigenous life histories is rich, particularly as it possesses a strong connection to discussions around Indigenous oral tradition (as most Indigenous life histories are                                                 3 For an in-depth discussion of Indigenous research methodologies, see Smith (2012). 5  orally narrated, then transformed into text), and as a result, cuts across multiple disciplines, including anthropology, history, literature, Indigenous studies, and law.4  The relationship between the life history method and anthropology, however, is an important one to both emphasize and be mindful of. Following the work of Audra Simpson (2014), Gitxaała anthropologist Charles Menzies (2008), and others, anthropology (and ethnography in particular) can be understood as deeply connected to the settler-colonial processes of displacement, dispossession, and containment of Indigenous peoples; the legacies of this relationship persist, specifically in how Indigenous peoples are known and represented by outsiders. In discussing how outsiders have come to “know” Indigenous peoples, Simpson notes, “One field of inquiry – anthropology – has dealt almost exclusively with Indigenous peoples in an ahistorical and depoliticized sense, innocent or dismissive of the strains of colonization and then settler colonialism on their politics, looking instead for pure culture and pure interlocutors of that culture” (p. 11). Anthropologist Leslie Robertson (2014) offers a similar observation: "There is an unsettling tendency in the history of anthropology to seek out pure forms of ‘culture’ along with persons somehow uncontaminated by Europeanness" (p. 33), and “early anthropologists saw individual lives as important for what they said about ‘culture’” (p. 44). In other words, life history has been an important component of the ethnographic toolkit, employed throughout Indigenous territories to uncover a ‘pure culture,’ to know and categorize the Other. I thus find it useful to think of ethnography and life history (and museum work, for that matter), as being tarnished. As practices deeply connected to colonialism, they have had long–                                                4 On the relationship between oral history, law, and anthropology see Miller (2012); on Indigenous oral tradition and literature see McCall (2011); on life history and anthropology see Crapanzano (1977), Darnell (2001), Frank (1995), Runyan (1986), and Zeitlyn (2008). 6  lasting impacts on how our community is known, and thus have had very real consequences.5 At the same time, however, something tarnished can also be valuable – in its raw material, or in what is below the stained surface. One has to polish away and remove the surface – at times a challenging process – to get at what is underneath.6 Alternatively, to rid the tarnish, one can remake; use the old to create something of usefulness today. I understand this untarnishing to be similar to the “anthropological rapprochement” Menzies (2008) advocates for, “an anthropology that is rooted within the intellectual traditions of Indigenous peoples and the longstanding traditions of the discipline qua discipline” (p. 172). As Menzies notes, this approach “is about transforming anthropological practice so that the Indigenous ceases to be merely the object of the anthropological gaze” (p. 175). Of course, people have been doing this kind of work for some time now, this untarnishing, and I owe a debt to those who have intervened in these conversations, who have shifted how I have come to understand life histories, oral tradition, and anthropology as a discipline. While I cannot speak to all, I will identify some work I have been particularly struck by, those who have illuminated the potential of life histories. One such work is that of my aunt, Leona Sparrow (1976), who, in the mid 1970s, in collaboration with her grandparents Ed and                                                 5 The history of cəsnaʔəm, the subject of the exhibit I discuss below, exemplifies this: as a former Musqueam village and burial site, its historic interpretation was part and parcel of its dispossession. See Roy (2010) for a detailed analysis of this history. 6 I do not to intend strip ‘ethnographic informants’ or life-history participants of their agency, or their own intentions for participating in production of ethnography, whether in conventional or other forms. These participants likely had their own reasons for doing so, in the same way our community members do today. Similarly, nor am I claiming that these texts or representations are entirely useless to our community today. I can still hear Bruce Miller sharing a brief anecdote that speaks to both of these issues. Upon asking Sonny McHalsie, a member of our upriver neighbours, the Stó:lō Nation, why he reads ethnographies: “When I read Duff or Hill–Tout, I’m not reading what he wrote, but what the person who told him said. I’m not in Duff’s mind, but that of the person who told him. I look at the filters.” (quoted in Miller, 2011, p. 97) Along these same lines, I also think about how our community approaches documentation produced by ethnographers’ and linguists’ fieldwork (recordings, notes): as equally, if not more important than the synthesized results and outsiders’ interpretations. I instead underscore how these individuals’ lives have been rendered by ethnographic practices. 7  Rose Sparrow, produced their life history through the lens of work and politics. The work of Julie Cruikshank (1990; 2000; 2005) and her collaborators Angela Sidney, Kitty Smith and Annie Ned, casts a long shadow: for its portrayal of these narrators as expert orators, for its collaborative approach, and for underscoring the contemporary relevance of oral tradition and the telling of lived experiences. A more recent intervention can be found in the work of literature scholar Sophie McCall (2011). Her work is a creative analysis of voice and agency in what she terms ‘told–to narratives,’ instances “in which, typically, non–Aboriginal recorders collect, edit, and structure stories by Aboriginal narrators” (McCall, 2011, p. 2). She complicates the collaborative nature of these works, and in doing so, advocates for them to be considered as literature in their own right – their study having previously been confined to anthropology and folklore – while simultaneously pointing to possibilities for this type of work in contributing to Indigenous sovereignty. To be clear, I am referring to anthropological practices; it is important to acknowledge the telling of our own and others’ lives – autobiography and biography – is an Indigenous practice, taking different shape in communities today. I see this text as also contributing to an untarnishing process; by speaking to both the re-envisioning of anthropological approaches in doing life history and ethnography, while simultaneously underscoring one form of oral tradition and biography existing in my own community. While the study and production of Indigenous life histories has seemingly become increasingly complicated in academic discourse, it is evident that life history projects continue to have potential and value to communities today. Recent collaborative projects from communities near my own speak to this enduring potential: the narratives of Elsie Paul, a Sliammon elder, in collaboration with grand-daughter Harmony Johnson and historian Paige Raibmon (2014), Stó:lo 8  elder and master basket maker Rena Point Bolton with anthropologist Richard Daly (2013), and Leslie Robertson in collaboration with Kwagu'l Gixsam Clan (2013).7 These three projects were initiated and driven by community members who sought academic assistance in the research, recording and writing of the respective life histories. These biographies were produced to serve the needs of the respective families and communities, as much as, if not more than, they were for the interests of public and academic readers. It is within these academic and community contexts I situate this consideration of biography, oral history, and ethnographic representation.                                                   7 As well as others: Tulalip elder Harriette Shelton Dover with anthropologist Darleen Fitzpatrick (2015); Trova Heffernan’s (2013) biography of the late Nisqually fishing rights activist Billy Frank Jr.; and Pauline Hillaire’s (2013) biography of her late father, Lummi carver Joe Hillaire. 9  Chapter 2: A Life History Project There have been several questions at the back of my mind since embarking on recording the biography of an Elder from my community in 2013.8 Why are the narrating and documenting of lived experiences of current generations important? Similarly, what is the role of biography, or life-telling, within my own community – or how can documenting these narratives assist larger objectives of our community? How can we go about this documentation in ways appropriate to how our community operates? Reflecting on my experiences working with this Elder in a project that was sadly cut short by this individual’s untimely passing, I have been able to begin answering these questions. In this chapter, I draw from these experiences in a discussion of the relationship between place and oral history, particularly the oral history of lived experiences, as well as a reflexive examination of our methodology. 2.1  Life history and place I learned a lot during time spent with this Elder, and began to recognize how one’s personal experiences illuminate our community’s history, in this case, our political history. The few sessions we had were informative, particularly when we drove around a segment of Musqueam territory during one recording session, where it became clear our territory and its places continue to serve as a container of our community’s histories.  In Brushed by Cedar, Living by the River, Crisca Bierwert (1999) reflects, “Northwest Coast iconography stirs me to think of places as being like containers, replete with animated beings, replete with signs” (p. 43), noting how in Salish languages, particularly Halkomelem (of                                                 8 As this Elder has since passed away, and the project has been left unfinished, I hesitate in sharing this person’s name or providing details about this person’s lived experiences – at least at this point in time. I feel that these are not my stories to share, despite many of them speaking to a broader political history of our community. Instead, here I briefly draw on my own experience of doing this work, and offer some insights pertinent to this discussion. 10  which həәn̓q̓əәmin̓əәm is a dialect), there is a common suffix in words used for containers, whether canoe, bowl, stomach, pond (p. 43). She observes,  The interrelationships between the contained and the container become ambiguous, complex, and organic. The concept of place, then, can imply binary complementarities, like provider and receiver. Place can also subsume reciprocals, like domain and residents. And place can also be collectively created; those who frequent a place become part of one another’s ambiance of that place. (p. 44)  While I had thought the drive-around would entail a discussion of place and territory prior to the arrival of non-Musqueam settlers, the subjects of the narrations were a rich assortment of this person’s own lived experiences, an accounting of how certain places had transformed over time, and the impact of these transformations, as well as narrating the experiences of others this individual had learned from. Each location was something of a palimpsest, a layering of histories from a very personal point of view. Much like Bierwert’s experience, it became clear that specific places were both generative, in configuring how this Elder related to and understood a particular location, and also served as receptacles of this individual’s own experiences throughout the individual’s lifetime.  The transformation of places, particularly within the lifetime of this Elder, is important to consider further. As Bierwert (1999) notes, “We come to know a place not only in a moment but in momentum, attending to traces that tell us something of its past and allow us to anticipate something of its future” (p. 44). Throughout our driving tour, I learned the former locations of wild cranberry bogs and salmon-bearing streams, since covered up by concrete and residential development, important marshlands filled in to accommodate burgeoning industry, and shellfish-bearing beaches destroyed to satisfy demands for public recreational space. But, as Bierwert observes, places are in momentum, providing glimpses of their future; here I am thinking of streams within Vancouver where salmon are slowly returning, or of a place such as the ancient 11  village of cəsnaʔəm, where in 2012, Musqueam community members stood vigil over unearthed ancestors over the course of two hundred days, not only preventing the village’s further destruction, but also revealing it as an important place for gathering together.  Understanding how previous transformations of critical places within Musqueam territory have negatively impacted the community underscores the need to protect places at risk, to protect the places that provide for the community. What I have come to realize, both as a result of the driving tour with this Elder, but also from reflecting on my own experiences and the perspectives of other community members, is how integral land-based practices are to carrying forth our teachings and history. As my cousin Morgan Guerin notes in one of our exhibit interviews, it is during these activities, particularly fishing and all of its preparation, when “the transference of knowledge happens” and when “the old stories come out.” Here I believe he is referring to family stories, stories of ancestors, stories rooted in particular places. Reflecting on this, I am more aware of how many stories I have heard about my late grandfather or my great-grandfather when out on the river with my uncle and cousins; stories elicited by doing the same thing they had done in the same places years and decades prior. As salmon stocks dwindle and opportunities to fish and be on the river become scarce, so do the opportunities for sharing such stories. As Morgan notes in another interview, no money or reparations can compensate for lost fish stocks, as these are more importantly lost opportunities: “how do you pay me for the time lost with my child, the way I learned from my grandparent, and [the way] my grandparent learned from his grandparent?” Bierwert (1999) further illuminates the importance of places and their resources: The memories attached to place are not only the associations they have with dear relatives who also lived there and have died, although this idea is more commonly associated with Native peoples. What is more important here is the attachment felt 12  when people recapitulate the performative knowledge of others … Changing the river’s flow, as happens when dams are constructed and walls are straightened to use the shoreline as a transport route, is what alters the potential reenactment here. Changing the mountain faces to eliminate places where spiritual cleansing has taken place would do the same. Altering spawning grounds to raise fish in controlled habitats would do the same. It is not that difference is resisted for its own sake, but that the peoples’ occupation in the fullest sense of the term would become discontinuous with past performance, putting their ways of knowing at risk. Conversely, to the extent that resources are reordered, embodied knowledge is lost and what now mobilizes fishing people on the river is altered as well (p. 281)  Ultimately, being able to utilize and engage with places in the same way as our ancestors is integral for carrying forward histories, values, and practices. Given Musqueam’s location within one of Canada’s largest cities, and the industrialization of the Fraser River, many of our community’s practices have been impacted, as my driving tour made clear. What I seek to emphasize is the connection between a place and its related practices, with the remembering of people and lived experiences. As I discuss in the following chapter, sharing and commemorating peoples’ life histories are integral to carrying forth teachings.  Perhaps most pertinent in a discussion of life history is the personal nature of connection to place. Sonny McHalsie (2008) observes, “there always has to be a personal connection to the place” (p. 95). After relating what had been shared with him about three different berry-picking sites from the perspectives of multiple elders, he writes, “When you think of those three berry-picking spots there’s a lot of culture, a lot of history, that you could learn just talking about those three places. You talk to different elders about each of those places, and each of them has a different experience or a different story. And we can learn from all of them” (p. 89). Similarly, as anthropologist Keith Basso notes in his celebrated work with the Apache (1996), place-making is “extremely personal, consistently subjective, and therefore highly variable among those who work to produce it. For these and other reasons, it is history without authorities – all narrated 13  place-worlds, provided they seem plausible, are considered equally valid” (p. 32). Reflecting on the drive-around, as noted above, the Elder I was working with had a very distinct, individualized understanding of certain places. The narratives of a particular location would entail more general, community history (“This is where our ancestors had a village site” or “This is where shellfish used to be harvested”), but also very personal stories (“This is where my grandfather passed away” or “This is where my family was refused service”). As historian Susan Roy (1999) has noted of my community, there is no singular ‘Musqueam history,’ nor is there a singular idea of what it means to be Musqueam (p. 9). Community members have their own distinct experiences and knowledge of the territory. The importance of individual understandings of history, knowledge, and teachings is discussed further in the following chapter. In this brief discussion of place I have only scratched the surface of place-making and the relationship between place and oral history. What I have attempted to illustrate, however, is the potential of place in regards to life history. As each community member relates to place differently, informed by their own teachings and lived experiences, spending time in place with an individual can be highly effective in evoking narratives, and for demonstrating our community’s continuous connection to place. Like Bierwert (1999), I argue for “recognition of place in another more personalized sense, more connected to the quotidian” (p. 281). In other words, a place-based approach is not only useful for recording life history; it is also a methodology grounded in the traditions of our community, as the stories come out when engaged in place-based practices. 2.2 Issues in the process At times, however, our process felt like an unnatural approach to doing biography and community history; it was a personal discomfort I believe to be unrelated to our researcher-14  participant relationship. Although this particular Elder was well-known for sharing stories, and as a politician on the local, provincial and national scene possessed a wealth of experience being interviewed by both media and researchers, something about the process (one-on-one recording sessions) felt foreign to me. Perhaps this was a result of the gap McCall (2011) writes about, arguing “there is always a gap between recorder and storyteller, even when the interlocutors belong to the same community or family, and even when they follow a careful collaborative process” (p. 6). We too were of the same community, shared genealogical connection, and from my perspective, were establishing a collaborative process intended to be of mutual benefit, and perhaps of benefit to the wider community – although we did not make it to the stages of analysis and dissemination which I felt would be critical to our collaborative methodology. Nevertheless – and while I cannot state definitively – I wonder now if the whole process may have felt foreign to this individual as well. Thinking back to our time spent together, this Elder made a suggestion on several occasions to bring a group together to discuss Musqueam’s history. At the time, I wondered if this Elder was drifting from the objective of speaking about their own personal history; the project was focusing on the Elder’s personal narratives – I internally questioned why others’ experiences and input would be relevant. Nevertheless, given the collaborative approach, I agreed and added it to our to-do list. Unfortunately, this Elder passed away before we had the opportunity to follow through with our plans. In retrospect, I now understand this group approach would not have been a deviation from our plan at all, as I have learned it is perhaps the most effective method of telling life history and community history.   15  Chapter 3: Gathered Together In early May 2014 I began working full time on a three-sited exhibit project, cəsnaʔəm: the city before the city. A collaboration between our community and several institutional partners, this multi-sited exhibit focuses primarily on the history and contemporary status of cəsnaʔəm, an ancient Musqueam village and cemetery, but also offers a broader history and current portrait of our community to the local and visiting public. These exhibits address themes similar to the ones present in the aforementioned life history project: our community’s ongoing connection to our territory, how the rapid growth of the City of Vancouver has impacted our community’s livelihood, the continuity of traditional practices and worldviews, and the erasure of our rich history in popular and academic discourse.9 Each exhibit location – the Musqueam Cultural Education Resource Centre, the UBC Museum of Anthropology (MOA), and the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) – presents these themes and narratives in ways distinct from one another, as well as presenting different information. While each exhibit is its own discrete entity, they are each telling one part of a larger story. Since their simultaneous opening in January 2015, the exhibits have garnered significant attention locally, nationally, as well as internationally, and have been generally positively received. Upon reflection, however, the most rewarding aspect for me was the development process rather than the final products and their reception. For many in the community, these exhibits provided an opportunity to tell our own story in our own way. The exhibit development reflected this approach at both a macro level, with Musqueam administration overseeing the project in its every stage beginning prior to the grant-writing, as well as at a micro level, with the                                                 9 For an overview of this erasure of Musqueam history within Vancouver, see Roy (2010). 16  voices of Musqueam individuals comprising the heart of each display. In other words, Musqueam perspectives and expertise were fundamental to the success of the project. As a member of both the curatorial team and the Musqueam community, it was not only a privilege to draw on my academic and professional experiences to help facilitate this process of telling our story, but also to be able to listen to members of the community share their knowledge, values, and lived experiences – which, as I’ve come to understand, are not easily detached from one another.  In particular, the experience of listening to a group of well–respected community leaders – si:yém – in conversation with one another was the most formative component of the exhibits’ progression. It was also an affective learning experience on a personal level, one I continuously return to, in the same way one might continuously return to a strong work of art; appreciative of its form, and in persistently attempting to better comprehend, locating new meanings, connections, and conversations. What follows can be read as my attempt to understand this experience – this distinct form of oral tradition – at this point in time, acknowledging my knowledge is limited, and my understandings will inevitably shift. The more I consider the concept of biography, and the forms biography takes in my own community, I think first about our unbroken oral tradition, particularly through the act of being gathered together. Here I reflect on my time spent in this setting, in quietly listening to this group, and offer some thoughts on why this act is critical for understanding how biography manifests and the role it serves in communities such as my own. 3.1 An exhibit advisory group From the outset of the exhibit development, there was an acknowledgment amongst the curatorial team there would be decisions we could not, or should not, make on our own. We 17  hosted sessions for those from the Musqueam community to provide input and steer the project from its inception. We also convened a core group of six respected leaders to guide the overall project and attend to specific questions and concerns. The individuals we asked to assist us are leaders in various aspects of community life, including, but not limited to: language revitalization, education, politics, fine art, and what our community refers to as ‘work’.10 These areas have a way of overlapping, and the individuals’ in-depth knowledge and leadership also seeps into multiple domains. Perhaps most pertinent here, the majority of these individuals are articulate and captivating speakers in how they convey their ideas and lived experiences, sharing these with their own distinct style. Some do this with hilarious anecdotes, complete with impersonated dialogues, others with personal and pensive reminiscences, while others were quieter, choosing instead to listen carefully and intermittently offering hushed input. Listening to them, it became clear the delivery of their own narratives drew from their distinct backgrounds and personalities, from lives spent in industry and fishing, university and public school systems, various political environments, or combinations of these – depending on their own personal trajectories. It also became clear, however, the amount these individuals had in common: in their rootedness at Musqueam, in their familial connections, in the teachings they carry forth. Despite their distinct paths, they return to Musqueam, and they return to their kitchen tables, the administration boardroom, the longhouse, the community centre, and other gathering places. In many ways, my experiences, and this thesis, speaks to the relationship between the individual                                                 10 I rarely hear terms such as ‘ceremony,’ ‘ritual,’ or ‘potlatch’ within the community; these terms do not originate in our community, and can be understood as another legacy of anthropology and its particular discourse. Community members refer to these kinds of activities as ‘work,’ which in my mind, implies both its necessity and its inability to be easily distinguished from ‘secular’ life. As a term it resists binary categorization. 18  and the community, the tension between diversity and commonality. In other words, I am interested in what happens when distinct experiences, personalities, and voices gather together. Ultimately, as community leaders, these individuals are actively engaged in carrying forth our community’s snəweyəɬ, not only by discussing them, but also by embodying them through their actions. They have all worked tirelessly in what they do, and serve as role models and teachers through doing. I should note, however, these individuals are respected not only for their experience or realm of knowledge, but also for their generosity and willingness to share. As one might expect, the responses were diverse, intricate and compelling, and for the curatorial team, provided us much to think through as well as considerable responsibility. The advisory group’s responses were most often not direct answers to our queries; very rarely did they offer a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and equally as rarely did they prescribe a straightforward course of action. Instead, our questions frequently elicited an indirect form of answering through narrative, a response I think many Indigenous readers will be familiar with. While ostensibly not answering our questions, they were providing us answers. What we assumed to be a relatively straightforward question, for example, would result in an hour of conversation amongst themselves.11 In this sense, they set the agenda, the tone, and the content of our sessions together. They decided what was important to share; our questions or propositions were infrequent, and served as starting points for rich discussions.  As curators, we had to listen closely, contemplate what was shared with us, interpret their narratives as best as we could, and decide on a potential way forward. We would then return with                                                 11  For example, as curators we would ask, “Is it appropriate to display this belonging, likely removed from a burial?” The discussion would begin with a response such as, “When I was young, my older brother and I got in trouble for…” Or, as another example, when asked about a particular type of whistle, the conversation ranged from the role of every community member to the timeliness of these exhibits in bringing diverse stories together. 19  our intended course of action for discussion with the group, or specific members of the group whom their peers identified having the most expertise in a certain area. I believe these aspects set apart this gathering together from typical understandings of a ‘focus group’ model of doing oral history, and we did not think of our advisory group in this way.12 Focus groups are designed to function as an efficient way to gather information – going ‘off-topic’ as a focus group would mean being out of control, whereas in our situation, going ‘off-topic’ would mean other things – either providing an answer through something seemingly irrelevant, or by marking that this is something you do not need to know about. We did not typically refer to this group – or this approach – as bringing together a ‘committee’ or ‘council’ either, as these designations are often associated with bureaucratic structures and therefore viewed as potentially encumbering. So while we, as the curatorial team, were responsible for bringing together these individuals, we respected them as our educators, advisors, and as authoritative figures. We were aware the project would require both their input and approval in order for it to be successful. They chose what to talk about, and from my observations, this advisory group found this gathering to be a useful, if not enjoyable opportunity to address their shared concerns regarding the community, protocols, and politics in a context unconstrained by a preconceived structure. This experience was similar to the time I spent with the Elder’s life history project, except multiplied. Both of my experiences, wherein the research ‘participants’ or ‘informants’ are more accurately described as teachers, parallels the experiences of others who have worked with knowledgeable Indigenous Elders (Sarris, 1993; Archibald, 2008). I view our gathering together approach as one grounded                                                 12 Here I draw from Slim et al.’s (2006) definition of focus group methods in their article “Ways of Listening.” While they describe both the values and limitations of group interview sessions (p. 147), the various methodologies they put forth are less about listening as they are about effectively obtaining desired information – from my perspective, two very different things.  20  in Indigenous Studies methodology, as it acknowledges these individuals as historians, critical thinkers, educators – as intellectuals – not as sources of raw data to be molded by our academic, institutional, and professional frameworks. To my mind, this approach is a result of the agency and authority of the advisory group members; as curators or ‘researchers’ we simply respected their leadership and depth of knowledge. In other words, we did not afford them power as much as they commanded it by refusing to be reduced or undervalued as informants or suppliers of data. Simultaneously, this gathered together approach is also a result of the community steering the overall exhibit development; this process was established to adhere to Musqueam community protocols, of which listening to Elders is critical. The approach we used – gathering together and listening to Elders – is as much a result of Musqueam asserting its agency as it is the exhibit partners (MOV, MOA, and the University of Waterloo) relinquishing power and decision-making capacities. 3.2 Teachings and lived experiences  What I found most striking about their indirect answering was how their responses were deeply rooted in lived experiences, whether sharing parts of their own lives, or others’ they’d observed personally or had been told about. These individuals would work through a question or concern together, as a group, by drawing on lived experiences, the lessons they learned from those experiences, almost always identifying where, when, how and who they learned from. Following the work of historian Keith Thor Carlson (2007) and anthropologist Bruce Miller (2011) with Coast Salish communities, I regard this referencing as ‘oral footnotes’ – acknowledgments of where and how knowledge was obtained, often noting person, place, and time. Carlson describes this practice as “references that in highlighting the link between themselves and the historical actors, and/or the various intergenerational transmitters of the story, 21  served to sustain and enhance the status of both” (p. 56). In a group setting such as ours, this referencing does multiple things: demonstrates the genealogical connections in the group, legitimizes the information being shared, and most important to this conversation, carries forth the memory of the individuals being referred to. Our group would call on experiences from all stages of their lives, childhood, young adulthood, and periods nearing the contemporary; particularly when they spoke of formative stages in their lives, the stories were as much about themselves as they were about those they learned from or with.  What I am trying to get at is the inseparability of our community’s snəweyəɬ and the lived experiences of those belonging to the community. In this sense, snəweyəɬ are robust and flexible. Writing about her experience listening to the narratives of Sliammon elder Elsie Paul (Chi–chia) to collaboratively produce an account of her life history, historian Paige Raibmon (2014) describes the importance of teachings: The teachings – the ideas, values, and intentions – are what is crucial. Although the practices themselves are not insignificant, Chi–chia locates their importance historically: they matter because they are part of the history, part of how the Elders lived the teachings in their day, not because they need to be retained as they were. Practices can and will change over time; the teachings are constant. (p. 42)  This sentiment echoes what I observed listening to our advisory group; snəweyəɬ are not abstract, isolated concepts, they are embodied and responsive to particular contexts.13 They inform one how to act, and when one acts according to these teachings, they are also carrying them forward. Similarly, reflecting on his experience recording the narratives of respected Stó:lō elder Rena Point Bolton, anthropologist Richard Daly (2013) observes, “Storytelling is thus an ongoing, discursive process that continues across the generations. Stories – including life stories                                                 13 This is partially why one of our interview questions for community participants revolved around process, evoking process, rather than attempting to evoke a stand alone or abstract idea: eg. ‘How did you learn about teachings?’ 22  [emphasis added] – function as conduits of information, values, and insights, and they are never completely ‘owned’ by the teller.” (p. xlii). Like Daly, I underscore storytelling as a critical educational practice, particularly the ways in which snəweyəɬ are embedded in people’s life stories. Regardless of generation, time period, or context, our community’s snəweyəɬ are persistent, and cannot be detached from our individual community members and their lives. In re-listening to the recording of one session spent with our group, I was struck by a segment of the conversation that conveys the teaching quality of sharing life stories and lived experiences. In the conversation, Larry Grant recounts listening to stories told to him by his mother about other individuals’ experiences, both fictional and real. As a young man, he found this experience to be repetitive and at times struggled to locate the relevance in her narratives.14 He describes his transition in how he understood the effects of her storytelling:  Mom would be talking about stories, just like Dickie talking about the big house. Gradually we’d get the story, and [realize] ‘Ah, there’s where I am, this is what I’ve done, this is where I need to move, and change my life in this part, and become this person she’s talking about.’ To me that’s really, really the truest way for us as kids learning, is to hear those stories, and then, as you grow older, you begin to analyze everything around you in that manner. ‘Cause life is not black and white. Life is grey, everywhere. Including our hair. But that’s how I see it now, but as a kid I couldn’t see it, everything was black and white for many, many years in my youth. And then all of a sudden, you begin to see ‘Ah, it’s a little murky over here, a little murky over there,’ and you really don’t want to get into the black and white, because then you forget about each other as human beings, to be judgmental, and that’s not what it should be. Because everybody has a grey area in their life, and you have to leave it alone, or things don’t – your relationship hurts if you don’t leave it alone.  Uncle Larry realizes his mother’s stories, about her experiences and others’, are meant to guide him in his own decision making; while ostensibly talking about somebody else, she was in actuality talking about him, or providing him a framework to understand his own situation. In                                                 14 Larry refers to his experience of learning through his mother’s storytelling in Grant et al. (2004). 23  sharing this learning process from his life, Larry was not only discussing his moment of coming to know, but also – among other things – illustrating the importance of listening and interpreting people’s lived stories for us as listeners. (In retrospect, he was spelling it out rather bluntly.) I must acknowledge that hearing this segment was revelatory to me in how I’ve come to understand what exactly this group was doing in their conversations. The fact that this aspect of Uncle Larry’s contribution evaded me on previous listens – including when I heard it first-hand, in person – also speaks to the significance of repeated tellings and listenings. Vi Hilbert (1985), the late Upper Skagit Elder and renowned storyteller, observes, “Our legends are like gems with many facets. They need to be read, savored, and reread from many angles. My elders never said to me, ‘This story carries such and such a meaning.’ I was expected to listen carefully and learn why the story was being told. Though guided, I was allowed the dignity of finding my own interpretation” (p. ix). This parallels Larry’s observations, as sometimes the relevance of a particular narrative may not be immediate; a story may not be applicable until one finds oneself in a similar situation. In our circumstances, I believe the answers to our questions was not located in any one story in particular, but in the body of stories presented to us throughout an extended conversation. This also seems to be an aspect overlooked in the analyses of oral tradition and life history: the arrangement of stories in relation to one another, and how different meanings and interpretations are made available through this ordering. I have come to think of these conversational tellings as a form of triangulation.15 In Keeping Slug Woman Alive, Greg Sarris (1993) discusses this phenomenon, the ways in which multiple stories come together as one for                                                 15 I am obliged to thank my former professor, Anishnaabe literature scholar Dory Nason for providing me with this useful analogy. 24  the listener, which he terms “the territory of orality” (p. 45).  As he notes, “there is so much more than just the story and what was said that is the story” (p. 45). Sarris continues: The territory – all that is oral, spoken and unspoken – is as vast as the culture which it gives life to and from which in turn it takes life. For that reason it is as impossible to generalize about ‘oral discourse’ as it is about ‘culture.’ They are inseparable from and specific to particular people, either as the people interact with one another from a shared knowledge base or with groups (or individuals) with a different knowledge base and history … The territory, after all, is not empty, unpeopled. (p. 47)  In other words, one learns not from one specific story, or even from a discrete set of stories; the context in which stories are heard are also integral. As curators we had to take a step back and reflect on this group of responses as a whole, do our best to locate meaning and appropriate interpretations before we were able to move forward in the exhibit process. 3.3 Teachings at work  The ways our advisory group approached the issues specific to our exhibit revealed the resilience of their teachings, and also demonstrated a strong sense of agency in how our community’s history and teachings are represented to outside audiences. Many of our questions to initiate conversations revolved around the appropriateness of display of certain types of belongings, whether such displays would be culturally sensitive or not.16 From my perspective, ‘cultural sensitivity,’ while being a term with particular weight in the museum world, is not a                                                 16Just as the exhibits aim to re-establish cəsnaʔəm as the original name of the place, they also institute the term belongings, signalling the ongoing connection our community has to both. This deliberate shift is not only a result of wanting to be respectful of our community’s ways of knowing – in that these things truly belong to our ancestors – but also a result of our community’s acute awareness of the power of language, discourse, and discursive forms, rightfully seeing the terms applied to belongings and places like cəsnaʔəm as deliberately alienating and dispossessing. More often than not, like many Indigenous and marginalized communities, we have been on the disempowering and displacing end of language’s political effect. The exhibits thus do not employ terms such as ‘artefact’ or ‘object’ in reference to belongings, and nor do they use terms like ‘archaeological site’ or ‘midden’ to refer to cəsnaʔəm. The reasoning behind using certain terminology, such as belongings, was the subject of more than one of our advisory group’s conversations.  25  concept of high traction within my community, as it is predicated on how non-Musqueam approach our practices and history – with sensitivity to cultural differences. This sensitivity however, in these various circumstances, has not been solely the result of pure benevolence on the part of museums; from my observations, it is the result of our own community leaders who have been adamant in marking the boundaries between public and private information. In this sense, the withholding of ‘culturally sensitive’ information is, following Simpson (2014), an act of ethnographic refusal.17 Guardedness, and the maintenance of privacy, can be understood as the demarcating of a sovereign space (‘this is what you need to know,’ or ‘we’re on a need to know basis, and you don’t need to know’). It is important to note things were not always this way; a sense of guardedness and protectiveness is the result of colonial impositions on Musqueam (and countless other Indigenous communities), particularly misinterpretations of our community’s ‘work’ and spiritual practices. As Bierwert (1999) notes, “During the first decades of the twentieth century, outward changes in Coast Salish longhouse practices revealed tensions between what was deemed public – meaning witnessed by persons outside the practice itself – and what was private. All forms of potlatch were outlawed on both sides of the border, and active police repression in Canada began in 1910” (p. 165). Maintaining a protective boundary around practices became critical to their survival, as many community members attest to.18  The cəsnaʔəm exhibits, then, are in some ways a loosening of boundaries, in their sharing of our history and teachings. It is a strategic and careful sharing, however, given decades of community experience with public representation, particularly through the community’s                                                 17 Simpson borrows this term from anthropologist Sherry Ortner (1995). 18 For further discussion of the persistence of both Musqueam and other Coast Salish community traditions see Kew (1990a; 1990b). For an examination of Musqueam negotiating the boundaries between public and private, see Roy (2002). 26  relationship with MOA. In other words, when community members such as our advisory group, engage in processes of public representation and sharing of teachings, the consideration of boundaries and of what is kept within our community is often a central concern. While laws have changed and our community’s ‘work’ and practices are no longer illegal, issues of privacy and cultural sensitivity have remained, as the conversations about displaying certain belongings made evident. When else, for example, would they have been asked if it was acceptable practice to display a belonging potentially removed from an ancestors’ burial? And yet, by drawing on the past to address the present, it became clear these individuals had a repertoire of experiences enabling them to attend to the topics at hand. The questions were at once foreign and familiar to them. Their conversations about how to address the complexities and baggage of museum collections demonstrate the robust nature of snəweyəɬ and their connection to the lived experiences of past and present generations. 3.4 Distributed biographies Now I will discuss several other features of these group conversations, of what happens when community members gather together. What I seek to underscore is these conversations, typically relaying lived experiences, do more than provide means to address contemporary questions (as it helped us as curators), or offer lessons to return to in the future (as it may for my cousin and co-curator Larissa Grant and I as younger community members). From my observation, they also carry forth the memory of individuals, an aspect especially pertinent to the discussion as it relates to the forms of biography. As I have made clear at this point, the conversations revolved around the lives and experiences not only belonging to the participants, but also to their family members, relations, and ancestors. In discussing their collection of life histories in the Tsimshian community of Hartley Bay, British Columbia, community members 27  Tammy Anderson Blumhagen and Margaret Seguin Anderson (1994) describe a particular type of Tsimshian storytelling, wherein “familiar anecdotes [are] told and retold, shaped to accentuate the characters and incidents described, and often passed on to keep alive the memory of family and friends, even when they are no longer living” (p. 93). This form, while located in a community and tradition of considerable distance from my own, concisely articulates a quality of the stories I was privileged to listen to. On multiple occasions, for example, I found myself learning about family members of previous generations who I never had the opportunity to know, having previously only known their location within my extended genealogy. What also became clear to me in our sessions was how many lived experiences in our community are shared lived experiences, and thus, how much of our history is also shared amongst individuals. This interconnectedness was especially evident in this group, as the participants were relatively the same age, having grown up together, and being related to one another. These individuals have known each other their whole lives. So convening a group may not only effectively showcase diversity of experiences, opinions, or voice, but it can also do the inverse, by demonstrating what is held collectively. In multiple instances, our advisory group members were able to expand a story together, or provide various perspectives of the same event, by virtue of them – or their respective family members before them – having experienced the event differently. When I refer to a history or experience being shared, however, I am implying a dual meaning to the term: these things can be held in common, but can also be distributed across multiple people. Speaking to this latter conception, my aunt Wendy Grant-John has stated, “everyone carries a little piece” – of our history, our snəweyəɬ, our culture. Sometimes these pieces may overlap with one another. Sarris (1993) offers a poignant and fitting description of this distribution, observing, “One party may write a story, but one party’s story is no more the 28  whole story than a cup of water is the river. While this may seem obvious, it underscores what it is we do when we tell, transcribe, or write about oral texts. Basically, in whatever form or manner we deal with oral texts, whether orally or literally, we continue their life in very specific ways” (p. 40). Since everyone ‘carries a piece,’ the act of gathering together is critical in moving our snəweyəɬ and our history forward, as Auntie Wendy stressed in particular relation to our community’s ongoing political endeavours. From her point of view, our community, particularly our distinct family groups, will need to bring together our stories, our knowledges of our territory – what she articulately referred to as “our truths”19 – as part of our reclamation of our lands and resources.20 This approach can be considered a form of collective or social memory; I understand it as a system of distributed knowledge.21  Indeed, the biography of individuals, from my perspective, is also frequently distributed amongst many. As noted above, I was able to learn more about particular individuals in these sessions, beyond those in the room with us. Getting to know the story of an individual was the result of collaborative storytelling from the group. An individual’s character and history was rounded out for the listener from various perspectives. Sometimes these perspectives would entail conflicting views, but this difference would be respectfully acknowledged (“I am aware you knew this person as X, but I knew them as Y”). In other words, this conversational mode of biography is an effective way of getting at the complexity of individuals and their lives (“Life is                                                 19 Our community, and Auntie Wendy in particular, are cognizant of the power of discursive formations, and how these frame people’s understandings of certain subjects. In this case, I believe she is responding to how mainstream and academic discourse has often treated Indigenous oral history – as unreliable. For a discussion of oral history, as it has been understood in anthropology and law, particularly in the context of the Northwest Coast, see Miller (2012). 20 She viewed this as especially pertinent in light of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision, Tsilhqot'in Nation v British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44, its implications regarding Aboriginal rights and title, and the need to demonstrate connection to our territory through sharing our truths. 21 For a discussion on collective memory, see Cattell and Climo (2002). 29  grey, everywhere”). As anthropologists Cattell and Climo (2002) describe, perhaps a bit more clinically, “Individual and collective memory come together in the stories of individual lives. The process of constructing a life story is heavily mediated by social construction; for example, it usually occurs in a social setting that shapes the stories told” (p. 22). It is important to note that a conversational, group approach to sharing narratives, history, and biography is not unique to the Musqueam community. While it is beyond the scope of this essay to provide a full accounting of this approach, here I offer two examples from outside our community. Cree lawyer Sharon Venne (2011) observes of her own community, “When the Elders come together, the stories begin to flow. One Elder alone has many stories, but when a number of Elders are placed in the same room, the stories multiply. One Elder may know part of a story and another will know the rest of the story. Together, the Elders tell the history of the nation” (p. 176). While Venne provides more general observations pertaining to Cree ways of history telling, Robertson (2014) notes the specific value of descendants’ collective remembering of the individual they descend from, noting, “As a western genre focused on an individual, biography is a somewhat limiting form,” and in their project, “it is the telling of collective histories that offers the necessary medium through which an individual life is commemorated” (p. 11). She further observes the book she wrote with members of the Kwagu'l Gixsam Clan is “an embodiment of memory practices among members of one family. In Standing Up with Ga’axsta’las, family history is a container for the story of an ancestor” (p. 52). While many in our advisory group are related with one another in different ways (some more closely than others), I know the experience would have been different had the group been comprised of one family. A different set of stories would have come forward, and this is useful to keep in mind had our objective been similar to Robertson and her co-authors.  30  While the idea of knowledge and histories being distributed is not unique to Musqueam, it is critical to how Musqueam functions, and has always functioned, in almost every domain. In other words, the sharing of history is evident in practices other than conversation and visiting.22 I am thinking of how our community does its ‘work’ in particular, wherein formally witnessing an event is a critical role fulfilled by multiple individuals hired as witness by those conducting their affairs (and whose responsibilities are distinct from the collective who also ‘witness’ the events). It is beyond my scope to describe this practice in detail, and perhaps not necessary. I will instead paraphrase Larry Grant, who has observed, ‘each witness observes the event from their own perspective. When they recount what they’ve witnessed to those who hired them, they do so by drawing on their own personal experiences and teachings’ (personal communication, 2015). Anthropologist Richard Daly (2013), on the other hand, describes the act of witnessing as “an essential element in legitimating important oral narratives and decisions in [Coast] Salish and other Northwest Coast cultures, all of which found such alternative ways of recording important social events without the aid of written documents” (p. xxxvi). The practice of witnessing also serves a role in the biography of individuals, as important events in one’s life would likely be recorded in this system. Witnesses can be called upon at any point in the future to provide an account of what they observed at a particular gathering. Witnessing is one example in demonstrating how in our community (and in our neighbouring communities), knowledge, history, life narratives are dispersed amongst many. Thus gathering together as individuals is akin to bringing together components of a history.                                                  22 It is important to note, however, sometimes knowledge is only distributed within one family, or within a particular society in the community, and there is also knowledge private to individuals. The privacy and protection of certain knowledge is another integral aspect to how our community functions, which is in some ways paradoxical to the distribution I speak of. The role of private knowledge has been well-analyzed. For example, see Suttles (1987), Bierwert (1999). 31  3.5 The importance of listening Spending time with this group underscored the importance of listening, not simply by virtue of us listening to them, but in how they listened to each other. When one person was speaking, the rest of the group listened respectfully – as opposed to waiting for their turn to talk. When the next person shared their thoughts with the group, they would respond in-depth, speaking not only to their own experiences and perspectives, but also to those they just heard. This aspect of the conversation demonstrated how well these individuals listened to one another, retaining what they’d heard and incorporating it into how they perceived the topic at hand. As they made clear about their own learning experiences, active listening was a formative aspect to their growing up in the Musqueam community. This mode of learning, of listening to knowledgeable adults in conversation with one another was echoed throughout our interviews with community members. Mary Roberts recollects her experience, “When we were kids we didn’t eat with the grownups. We had a table of our own.  Once you moved to the grown-up table you couldn’t have any input. You had to listen for a number of years. That was a learning process.” Similarly, Howard E. Grant remembers, “Dinner table talk is how I learned who I was. I listened to my grandparents, my grand–uncles, aunts and uncles, and mother.  They would gather, have a sit down dinner, and you’d hear them talk. You’d hear them reminisce. You’d hear them talk about what it was, and how it was.” These brief anecdotes resonate with those Raibmon (2014) describes Elsie Paul experiencing as a child, as her Elders taught her to listen, instructing her to “remain receptive to new meanings and lessons regardless of how many times she had heard a story before” (p. 5). In these contexts, listening is as critical as speaking. As Cree historian Winona Wheeler (2005) has astutely observed of her own community’s ways, they are “an oral culture, a listening culture” (p. 190). I believe the same can be said of Musqueam. 32  Listening, then, is as active a process as speaking. It is not passive, as it requires energy and experience to listen effectively.  Observing this group as listeners was a powerful display of listening as key to learning about our history, practices, and ways of knowing. Their active listening, I believe, also connects to a sense of humility. The members of our group were swift in acknowledging if they did not know something, or if there was someone more appropriate to speak to a certain topic. (At times this meant acknowledging the specific skills and knowledge of the museum–based curators and archaeologist by bringing them into the conversation). The advisory group’s demonstration of active, patient listening also underscored the importance of lifelong learning. McHalsie (2007) speaks to this in his chapter “We Have to Take Care of Everything that Belongs to Us,” noting in his Stó:lō community, "One of the teachings of the Elders is that we're always learning; we never quit learning from the day we're born until the day we die” (p. 85). While I have not personally heard this teaching articulated explicitly at Musqueam, in sharing with and listening to each other it was apparent the members of our advisory group are continuously reflecting on and learning from their own and each other’s lived experiences; they are lifelong learners. 3.6 Conversation as genre In the same way McCall directs us to understanding ‘told-to narratives’ as a distinct form of literature (and biography), I seek to do the same with conversation. From my experience, particularly with this group of respected knowledge holders, conversation has its own distinctive qualities, wherein diverse stories and perspectives play off of each other to create meaning, and wherein multiple voices contribute to larger narratives. It is its own mode of storytelling, history telling, and biography. Gathering together, visiting, or conversing, in other words, can be considered a genre in its own right, understanding the definition of genre as a category of artistic 33  composition. I owe Anderson and Blumhagen (1994) for this insight, who, discussing their methodology, note, “We collected research materials in the genre most familiar to the community, conversation” (p. 87, emphasis in original). Genre implies an artistic craft requiring its own skillset, and thus possessing experts in its production. As I indicated above, the group we worked with grew up immersed in this practice and understands not only its importance as a form of education, but now fulfill the role of educators through this means. Most of this group are expert orators, and while some are gifted with the ability or well-practiced in public speaking, there seems to be a preference for sharing their stories and experiences within a social, group setting. Like Anderson and Blumhagen’s interpretation of the community’s preference in Hartley Bay, conversation, in my opinion, is also one of the most familiar genres for imparting snəweyəɬ within my own community.23 By underscoring the term genre in relation to conversation, I am not implying that every conversation is a work of art; I am, however, prompting readers to consider it as a practice requiring its own set of skills. I am ultimately signalling towards the potential of the conversation, of gathered together as a distinct narrative approach, whether doing biography, history, ethnography, or political theory.  3.7 Kitchen table talk In preparation for the cəsnaʔəm: the city before the city exhibits, near the end of one particularly moving session with our advisory group, my curatorial colleague and cousin Larissa Grant observed aloud, “I’m 42 and I feel like a child in this room with you. If people my age, and younger, could feel how I feel when I listen to you, that would be the best exhibit in the                                                 23 Although this is not to say it is the only one. Our community’s work necessitates strong public speakers, who are recognized at a young age for their abilities and trained to fulfill this important role. Not only clear and articulate, speakers have the special ability of conveying the intentions and feelings of those who hire them, while simultaneously drawing on their own teachings and experiences. However, a relatively select few possess this ability.  34  world.” In other words, Larissa was curious if others could learn about Musqueam in the same way she had – and continues to – through listening to her family and friends in conversation with one another, discussing our community’s history, values and practices – our teachings – through their own diverse personal experiences and perspectives. Through her observation of her own experiences and conception of her ideal exhibit, she was also identifying the shortcomings of typical modes of museum display: concise and easily accessible text, imagery and video as explanatory devices in the presentation of objects. Sound, the sound of oral tradition in particular, is rarely the focus in an exhibit context, likely because dedicated listening requires time, patience, and energy, and museums devoted to education have their own conventions and expertise in conveying certain messaging effectively. In her review of museum literature, historian Anna Green (1997/2006) observes oral tradition is frequently perceived as “an adjunct to the material object collections … when oral history was incorporated into exhibitions, the spoken word was usually transformed into text on walls, and consequently lost the multi–layered complexities and entrancing vigour of oral narration” (p. 417). While she was observing the situation almost twenty years ago, from my experience, not too much has changed, and this is particularly true in relation to the representation of Indigenous people and their knowledges.24  The cəsnaʔəm exhibits do employ typical, more easily digestible methods throughout all three locations, from turning the spoken word into text on a wall to presenting short, documentary-style video clips. I liken these conventions to those Daly (2013) speaks of in the mainstream publishing world, which both he and Rena Point Bolton had to consider when                                                 24 One exception I think of immediately is Anspayaxw: an installation for voice, image, and sound (2010) by Canadian artist John Wynne who produced the display in collaboration with photographer Denise Hawrysio, linguist Tyler Peterson, and members of the Indigenous Gitxsan community at Anspayaxw (Kispiox, British Columbia). While sound is integral to this work, I would argue, however, oral tradition is one component of a range of auditory experiences present.  35  transforming her biography from oral to written. They forgo certain characteristics present in her original tellings, presenting a linear narrative without repetition, for example (p. xlvi–xlviii). As curators, we were all aware of conventions present in the museum world, but did not always follow them – and if we did, some play and creativity was involved. Larissa’s comments above inspired one example of play pertinent to our discussion: a surround–sound audio installation of our advisory group in conversation. In addition to coming to understand the importance of gathering together and sharing in conversation as a critical mode of education, I was also intrigued by the distinct aesthetics and form of this aural experience. From my perspective, listening to this group had appealing qualities of warmth and comfort, qualities challenging to describe. Part of this quality, I believe, has to do with the range of emotions and responses present in any extended conversation. In this case, humour had a significant presence. As Archibald (2008) notes,  Humour through teasing, joking, and telling funny stories is a very important cultural interaction. Humour indicates that the group is comfortable with and open to each other – and to the researcher … I believe that humour has a healing aspect for both the storyteller and the listener in that those who have lived through very difficult circumstances and who can share some humourous aspect of the experience have achieved some emotional or spiritual healing and resilience. (p. 68)  From my experiences, humour, and other integral aspects of oral tradition and Indigenous culture are seldom found in public representations such as ethnographic accounts and museum exhibits (or ethnographic museum exhibits), likely because they are challenging to convey well – they are not easily captured in text format. Lastly, as curators we heard a common refrain throughout our interviews with community members in regards to visiting: “we don’t do enough of it anymore.” In retrospect, these statements act as reminder, that getting together and visiting, over coffee and 36  tea, over a meal, is not only about maintaining personal and family connections, but is also integral to passing forth the knowledge of who we are. In consideration of these things, we put forth a proposition to our advisory group: could we record them in conversation with one another, and include this recording as a surround-sound installation in the Museum of Anthropology exhibit? Fortunately for us they were amenable to this proposal, and so we provided them a home-cooked dinner, a comfortable setting (one of the group member’s home), and when they were finished eating, with the assistance of an experienced sound engineer, mic’d them individually and then hit ‘record.’ The session was open-ended, but sparked by a photograph of an ancient house post found just beyond the reserve border. They conversed for two and a half hours, of their childhood, of shrinking reserve boundaries, of their grandparents and great aunts and uncles, and of their concerns regarding the future of our community.  Before this recording was installed, the group had the opportunity to review the recording to ensure they were comfortable with what was to be shared with a public audience. Ultimately the two and a half hours were reduced to approximately twenty-five minutes.25 As visitors hear only segments, an element of continuity of conversation is implied. For us as curators, this sound installation was as much about what it gestures toward – the importance of listening – as it was about the content itself, despite this content being important (what are essentially excerpts of their biographies – their lived experiences and snəweyəɬ). From a museum curation standpoint, featuring this audio installation was also in some ways an experiment, to see how audiences                                                 25 The reduction of time was not to create a more easily accessible museum display; rather, a majority of the conversation was deemed unsuitable for a public audience. This suggests, from my own interpretation, that the group found this gathering to be pleasurable and were thus using it to address their own concerns, as opposed to the recording aspect limiting what was spoken about. An after–the–fact editing marking boundaries of what the visitor could listen in on.  37  would receive the experience, in listening to stories and perspectives requiring their own interpretations – especially within a larger context where information is presented concisely and directly. At best, we hoped an experience such as this would provide a more natural means for getting to know our community’s history and experiences, and an opportunity for what Raibmon (2014) refers to as “transformational listening.” She describes this as “listening in ways and to voices that have the power to unearth sociopolitical assumptions and intellectual foundations” (p. 4-5). Raibmon offers a number of important insights and caveats in regard to this process however, in our ‘age of testimony,’ particularly in the Canadian context with the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission.26 As she notes, there is the risk settler society may believe “listening is reconciliation” (p. 7, emphasis in original). Raibmon aptly notes “Indigenous individuals who share their testimony – whether as a formal evidence to a commission or court, or as personal narrative for a public audience – offer listeners an important gift. Whether and how audiences are able to receive and appreciate that gift depends very much on the particular way that they listen” (p. 6). Ultimately, she urges her readers to respect this generosity, by practicing an “active, open-ended listening,” and to avoiding certainty and assumptions, as the latter risks reinforcing the status quo of settler colonialism (p. 7). We had similar concerns as curators of this particular exhibit component. Our primary concern was to not present the recording as a salvaging act – or as a replacement for the real thing. Instead it was meant to signal the importance of active, or transformational listening. We were conscious of the                                                 26 In her discussion, Raibmon engages with historian Bain Attwood (2008), who is skeptical of the role of autobiography and testimony in reconciliation, particularly in regards to the history the Indigenous peoples of Australia. While Attwood argues “Autobiography or testimony cannot and should not be regarded as the same as history” (p. 89), instead viewing narrators as informants to professional historians, Raibmon (2014) and her co-authors contend the Elsie Paul is a historian “in her own right” (p. 8, emphasis in original). 38  generosity of the group in sharing their personal narratives in such a direct, unfiltered form, and hopeful that our non-Musqueam audience would listen to the narratives in the same way we as community members are taught, ‘with an open heart and open mind.’ In most exhibit contexts, museum visitors are only able to access the highly polished, final product, and remain unaware of how such a exhibit takes shape in its development, particularly the role of community collaboration and input. While the cəsnaʔəm: the city before the city exhibits do not explicitly reveal the curatorial process and community engagement, they do offer some glimpses. Including this particular group in conversation with one another, then, also offers visitors not only a glance into the way Musqueam community members carry forth their teachings, but also into the curatorial process; as discussed above, these listening sessions were critical to the development of the exhibits. This surround-sound room, bearing the title sqəqip – gathered together, then, is both process and product.  It is worth briefly noting the staging of this sound installation: an enclosed room, minimally dressed with a kitchen table with ample seating, an oilcloth tablecloth, a handful of photographs (of our group as children, the reserve as they grew up in it, the aforementioned house-post fragment), and a teapot with cups (Figure 1). Like Anna Green (1997/2005) and her team, who in preparing their oral history-focused exhibit, “shared the conviction that creating a highly detailed stage-setting can distract visitors from listening to the oral testimonies” (p. 417), we too wanted the focus on the aural experience and its content. Furthermore, this minimal set-up is complementary to the overall design and aesthetic of the MOA rendition of cəsnaʔəm, the 39  city before the city which was designed to have a temporal quality (Figure 2).27 As discussed in Chapter Two, places – particularly the Fraser River – are known in a moment, but also in momentum; they are constantly in change, while somehow remaining the same. The exhibit references this through a design motif drawing from the Fraser River. As curators, we understood the exhibit to be representative as a portrayal of the Musqueam community at one moment in time, as temporary; we did not see it as a permanent or definitive statement. We chose to reference the kitchen table setting as a result of the consistent reference we heard through both interviews and conversations with community members, about “those cups of tea” and “kitchen table talk” as formative to their learning. Anishnaabe literary scholar Scott Richard Lyons (2010) depicts the kitchen table as a modern ‘Indian Space,’ in some ways critiquing its prevalence in Indigenous discourse for its romanticisation as an entirely democratic, communal setting (p. 20). Lyons asks “Do I really sit at the same table as my cousin just released from jail, or the homeless, or the addicted? The image of a kitchen table suggests that we do, but sitting here in my comfortable university office, I’m really not so sure about that” (p. 21). While I understand such concerns, and am aware of the growing presence of ‘the kitchen table’ as a symbol in various contexts, I’m not sure if I conceive of it as a space as much as I do as an act. From my observations in our community, using terms such as “kitchen table talk” or “dinner table talk” are not specifying or referencing the location or setting, but the practice in and of itself of gathering together with the sharing of stories. This perspective seems to align that of Abanaki scholar Lisa Brooks (2006). In her discussion of the kitchen table, Brooks                                                 27 This design had an unfinished, do-it-yourself aesthetic, primarily as a result of the materials used: text and graphics were printed on semi-translucent paper and then pinned to sheets of Donnaconna, a bulletin-board type of material. As opposed to being kept out of visitors’ sight, most of the exhibit’s multimedia technology is left exposed. Overall, the exhibit design is unobtrusive and minimal.  40  emphasizes a dual aspect of ‘the gathering place,’ referring to both people gathering together, and the gathering of plants and medicine. “Gathering is a process in which we are engaged, an activity that sustains us and our families. Yet, like the gathering of plants, intellectual and artistic gathering relies on carefully considered knowledge of the landscape and our impacts on it” (p. 244). Throughout most of our exhibit development, save for the recording session, our kitchen table talk took place in other domains, including a community classroom and Band administration council chamber. In my experiences, the kitchen table – or wherever we choose to sit and visit – does have a way of bringing diverse voices together, of different family backgrounds, occupations, and ages. We selected a kitchen table setting not only for its familiarity to Musqueam and Indigenous audiences, but also for a wider non-Indigenous audience as well, to reference the learning that takes place in this space. The kitchen table signals toward an intimate, private space; thus inviting visitors to listen to conversations not present in public domains. We intended for all visitors to reflect on how much of their worldview and knowledge was a result of listening to family, or from conversation, rather than the more mainstream means of education. sqəqip – gathered together, has been one of the most well received parts of the Museum of Anthropology rendition of cəsnaʔəm – at least from my anecdotal observations. This seems to be particularly the case with Musqueam and other Indigenous exhibit-goers, who have relayed sitting in the room “feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket,” or that it “reminds me of my childhood.” It is instantly familiar, within a context – the ethnographic museum – where at times 41  our own representations can seem unfamiliar.28 Others have referred to the experience as an “auditory unsettling” – pointing to the ability of oral testimony to strike a particular chord, and perhaps lead to further questioning, along the lines of what Raibmon advocates for. For me, the positive reception validates conversation as an important form of oral tradition, and one taking place in many other communities.  Figure 1 Installation view of sqəq ip  – gathered together. Photograph courtesy of Reese Muntean.                                                 28 Former MOA director, the late Michael Ames (1999), discusses the unfamiliarity of museum displays to Musqueam in his seminal article “How to Decorate a House: The Re-negotiation of Cultural Representations at the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology.” He observes for one unnamed Musqueam community member, previous visits to the museum were an unsettling experience: “It was like having a stranger decorate his house, he said. He would recognize all the furniture and the settings. Everything would be familiar. Yet somehow the resulting assemblage just wouldn't convey the right feeling. It would not be the way he would furnish his home” (p. 48). Getting an exhibit right, on the other hand, would mean community members feel comfortable with the settings; they would feel as if they were in their own house.    42    Figure 2 Gallery view of cəsnaʔəm: the city before the city at the Museum of Anthropology. Photograph courtesy of Reese Muntean.43  Chapter 4: Conclusion Looking back, I now better understand why the Elder I was working with in 2013 made several requests to bring a group together. Understanding individuals hold one piece of the story and can only speak to certain aspects of Musqueam history, this Elder was aware that once others started to share their own histories and experiences, a group would be able bring together a larger, more complete history. From my observations, the act of gathering together is not only a means of carrying forth history, particularly in the form of individual’s lived experiences, but also, and connectedly, of carrying forth distinct worldviews, practices, and teachings. By listening to the stories of our community members, past and present, there is much insight to be gained. The goals of this thesis have been multifold. In Chapter Two, I reflected on one life history project I was involved in to demonstrate the role of place in biography, In Chapter Three, I highlight one form of oral tradition – and of doing biography – one seemingly the most organic to our community: the act of gathering together, of having a group conversation.29  From my experiences, conversation is a distinct genre, and one frequently overlooked, or not represented, in the literature on life history and oral tradition despite it being an important mode of learning within my (and likely others’) community. Perhaps it being overlooked is a result of it being an everyday, commonplace activity, in some ways belying the important work it does. Of course, our community is aware of what group visiting and life-narrating achieves.                                                  29 To be sure, biography takes many forms in our community, and here I have only highlighted one form. To speak about other forms are not only beyond the scope of this paper, but also not within my own knowledge or experience. 44  Biography – the telling of lived experiences, life trajectories, life history – as I have attempted to articulate, is inseparable from snəweyəɬ, from knowing who we are and where we come from. There is as much to learn from the telling of contemporary lives, historic lives, as there are from our narratives reaching into the ancient past. I continuously think about an elegant analogy offered by my cousin Morgan Guerin in one of our exhibit interviews, where he refers to our community as a ‘living book’:  “The page turns, the author changes, but it's the same words moving forward.” He goes on to note “this is just our time to add to the chapters.” Biography, then, particularly in the spoken, shared form, is an ongoing and integral practice taking place in various settings. This practice is not restricted to the kitchen table; it also occurs on the water when the fish are running upriver, in the forest while collecting cedar bark, in the marsh during duck hunting season, in the boardroom while an exhibit is being planned. In writing about the public representation of one such conversation – of our exhibit advisory group sharing stories with one another – I seek to underscore the importance of listening while implicitly acknowledging this type of experience would be extremely difficult – if not impossible – to textualize. The sound installation format offers one possible means of circumventing this issue, although it has its own limitations. Ultimately, it provides visitors a brief window into a significant form of oral tradition scarcely represented to a public audience. The installation – and the cəsnaʔəm: the city before the city exhibits as a whole – also point to the interconnectedness of ethnography, biography and museum display – making clear how the telling of life histories often reach beyond typical book formats, as McCall (2011) illustrates in her analysis of told-to narratives. The installation singles out one possibility of a more familiar, if not more accurate, representation of who we are, of doing biography, and how our history and ways of knowing are carried forward.  45   In Mohawk Interruptus, Simpson (2014) seeks out a reinvigorated, improved form of ethnography, an ‘ethnography of refusal,’ wherein Indigenous nations’ needs and objectives are central, and where limits are staked in regards to what those outside our community need to know. As she writes, I am interested in the way that cultural analysis may look when difference is not the unit of analysis; when culture is disaggregated into a variety of narratives rather than one comprehensive, official story; when proximity to the territory that one is engaging in is as immediate as the self. What, then, does this do to ethnographic form? I will argue that when we do this type of anthropological accounting, “voice” goes hand in hand with sovereignty at the level of enunciation, at the level of method, and at the level of textualization. Within Indigenous contexts, when the people we speak of speak for themselves, their sovereignty interrupts anthropological portraits of timelessness, procedure, and function that dominate representations of their past and sometimes, their present. (p. 97)  I understand practices of ethnography, life history, museum representation, as having a shared history – one deeply connected to colonial processes. I also see these practices as having a shared future and as such, renewing any one of them in a community-centered way, is attending to a larger project of working toward our own sovereignty and self-determination. As Menzies (2008) observes, research, particularly from the discipline of anthropology,  meant studying us, critiquing us, and ultimately ranking us in a hierarchical chain of development from savages to Eurocentric civilization. This necessarily places control over culture (and, by extension, research) at the center of any decolonizing action. Such an approach necessitates taking Indigenous intellectual traditions series as systems of ideas and concepts in their own right. (p. 191)   From my observations, my community, along with our collaborators, are taking control over our culture, research, and representation. The cəsnaʔəm: the city before the city exhibits are a strong example of this. Our community members are putting forward more precise representations of who we are, with our own aspirations centralized, drawing from our own methodology, ways of learning, and ways of knowing. While this is evident throughout all three exhibits, it is especially 46  so in the sqəqip – gathered together component, where respected leaders generously share moments of their own lives, and our community’s history. This section of the exhibit demonstrates a distinct form of oral tradition and biography, and underscores one manifestation of our community’s intellectual traditions. Furthermore, it does so without over-sharing or transforming these individuals into ethnographic informants. They speak for themselves. The exhibits in their entirety ask visitors to listen, to be witnesses, to Musqueam voices – in their diversity of form and contents – and thus to our concerns and intentions. Like the stories our advisory group shares, the exhibits are as much about the past as they are the present, and the future. Similarly, they are as much as they are about our ‘culture’ as they are our politics, territory and history, from the ancient to recent, as these things are inseparable from one another. When our people gather together and share their pieces of the story, “our truths,” this is made evident. One just has to sit and listen. 47  Epilogue In writing this thesis, I have been prompted to reflect more on the role of gathering together with story and the role of ‘kitchen table talk’ in my own life. Firstly, I think about my time spent at Musqueam 101, a community dinner and lecture series that happens on the reserve. Every Wednesday, the cold and formal boardroom table, complete with executive-style office chairs, is transformed into a kitchen table: a place of laughter, teasing, warmth, and generosity – and maybe some debate. For the past ten years, it has been a way to spend time with family and community members, sharing a meal and conversation, and thus, a place where knowledge is transferred. It has been critical for me to learn more about who I am, and where I come from. Secondly, I think about time spent sitting at my grandparents’ kitchen table and listening to stories from their lives. It was this same table where our family gathered in late January, four years ago, immediately after my grandfather passed away. For several days, our family convened in my grandparents’ kitchen and living room, as friends and extended relations dropped in with food and conversation. It was a time of sadness and mourning, but also a time of laughter and sharing. Visitors not only offered condolences, but also their stories and memories, raising our spirits in turn. In our community, this is common practice when a loved one passes away – people come together and help one another. I am thankful for the support our family received. For those several days, there was nowhere else I would rather have been to deal with our family’s loss. Gathering together and sharing stories around the kitchen table does important work – it cannot really be described, only felt.  48  Bibliography Ames, M. M. (1999). How to decorate a house: the re-negotiation of cultural representations at the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology. Museum Anthropology, 22(3), 41–51.  Anderson, M. S., & Anderson Blumhagen, T. (1994). Memories and moments: conversations and re-collections. BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly, 0(104), 85–102. Archibald, J. (2008). Indigenous storywork: educating the heart, mind, body, and spirit. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. Attwood, B. (2008). In the age of testimony: the Stolen Generations’ narrative, “distance,” and public history. Public Culture, 20(1), 75–95. http://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2007-017 Baird, J. (1997). Weaving worlds – colliding traditions: collaborating with Musqueam weaver and educator Debra Sparrow (MA Thesis). Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia. Basso, K. H. (1996). Wisdom sits in places: landscape and language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. Bierwert, C. (1999). Brushed by cedar, living by the river: Coast Salish figures of power. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press. Brooks, L. (2006). Afterword: at the gathering place. In J. Weaver, C. S. Womack, & R. Warrior, American Indian literary nationalism. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. Cariou, W. (2015). Life-telling: Indigenous oral autobiography – listening beyond graphia. Manuscript submitted for publication. Carlson, K. T. (2008). Toward an Indigenous historiography: events, migrations, and formation of “post-contact” Coast Salish collective identities. In B. G. Miller (Ed.), Be of good mind: Essays on the Coast Salish. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. 49  Cattell, M. G., & Climo, J. (2002). Introduction: meaning in social memory and history: anthropological perspectives. In J. Climo & M. G. Cattell (Eds.), Social memory and history: anthropological perspectives. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. Crapanzano, V. (1977). The life history in anthropological field work. Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly, 2(2-3), 3–7.  Cruikshank, J. (1990). Life lived like a story: life stories of three Yukon Native elders. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. Cruikshank, J. (1994). Notes and comments: oral tradition and oral history – reviewing some issues. The Canadian historical review, 75(3), 403–418. Cruikshank, J. (2000). The social life of stories: narrative and knowledge in the Yukon Territory. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. Cruikshank, J. (2005). Do glaciers listen? Local knowledge, colonial encounters, and social imagination. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. Darnell, R. (2001). Invisible genealogies: A history of Americanist anthropology. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. Dover, H., & Williams, W. (2015). Tulalip, From My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community. (D. Fitzpatrick, Ed.). University of Washington Press. Fortney, S. (2009). Forging new partnerships  : Coast Salish communities and museums (Doctoral Dissertation). Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia. Frank, G. (1995). Anthropology and individual lives: The story of the life History and the history of the life story. American Anthropologist, 97(1), 145–148. Grant, L., Blake, S. J., & Teucher, U. C. (2004). Meanings of Musqueam ancestral names: The Capilano tradition. University British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics, XXXIX, 45–66. 50  Green, A. (2005). The exhibition that speaks for itself: oral history and museums. In R. Perks & A. Thomson (Eds.), The Oral History Reader (2 edition). London; New York: Routledge. (Original work published 1997) Heffernan, T. (2013). Where the salmon run: The life and legacy of Bill Frank Jr. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. Hilbert, V. (Trans.). (1985). Haboo: Native American stories from Puget Sound. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Hillaire, P. (2013). A totem pole history: The work of Lummi carver Joe Hillaire. (G. P. Fields, Ed.). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. Kew, J. E. M. (1990a). Central and Southern Coast Salish ceremonies since 1900. In W. Suttles (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians, volume 7: Northwest Coast. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. Kew, J. E. M. (1990b). Coast Salish ceremonial life. In W. Suttles (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians, volume 7: Northwest Coast. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. Lyons, S. R. (2010). X-Marks: Native Signatures of Assent. Minneapolis, MN: University Of Minnesota Press. McCall, S. (2011). First person plural: Aboriginal storytelling and the ethics of collaborative authorship. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. McHalsie, S. (2008). We have to take care of everything that belongs to us. In B. G. Miller (Ed.), Be of good mind: Essays on the Coast Salish. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. Menzies, C. R. (2013). Standing on the shore with Saaban: An anthropological rapprochement with an Indigenous intellectual tradition. Collaborative Anthropologies, 6(1), 171–199.  51  Miller, B. G. (2012). Oral history on trial: Recognizing Aboriginal narratives in the courts. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. Ortner, S. B. (1995). Resistance and the problem of ethnographic refusal. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 37(1), 173–193. Paul, E., Raibmon, P., & Johnson, H. (2014). Written as I remember it: Teachings (ʔəms taʔaw) from the life of a Sliammon elder. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. Pleshakov, A. S. (2010). “We do not talk about our history here”: the Department of Indian Affairs, Musqueam-settler relations, and memory in a Vancouver neighbourhood (MA Thesis). Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia.  Point Bolton, R., & Daly, R. (2013). Xwelíqwiya: The life of a Stó:lo matriarch. Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.  Reynolds, J. (2005). Impact of the Guerin Case on Aboriginal and fiduciary law. The Advocate, 63(3), 365–373. Robertson, L. (2013). Standing up with Ga’axsta’las: Jane Constance Cook and the politics of memory, church, and custom. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. Roy, S. (1999). Making history visible: Culture and politics in the presentation of Musqueam history (MA Thesis). Vancouver, BC: Simon Fraser University. Roy, S. (2002). Performing Musqueam culture and history at British Columbia’s 1966 centennial celebrations. BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly, 135, 55–90. Roy, S. (2010). These mysterious people: Shaping history and archaeology in a Northwest Coast community. Montreal; Kingston: McGill-Queen’s Press. Runyan, W. M. (1986). Life histories in anthropology: Another view. American Anthropologist, 88(1), 181–183. 52  Sarris, G. (1993). Keeping Slug Woman alive: A holistic approach to American Indian texts. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Simpson, A. (2014). Mohawk Interruptus: Political life across the borders of settler states. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Slim, H., Thompson, P., Bennet, O., & Cross. (2006). Ways of listening. In R. Perks & A. Thomson (Eds.), The Oral History Reader (2 edition). London; New York: Routledge. Smith, L. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples (2nd ed.). London; New York: Zed Books. Sparrow, L. M. (1976). Work histories of a Coast Salish couple (Doctoral dissertation). Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia. Suttles, W. (1987). Coast Salish essays. Vancouver; Seattle: Talonbooks. Wheeler, W. (2005). Reflections on the social relations of Indigenous oral histories. In D. McNab & U. Lischke (Eds.), Walking a tightrope Aboriginal people and their representations. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.  Zeitlyn, D. (2008). Life-history writing and the anthropological silhouette. Social Anthropology, 16(2), 154–171.  


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items