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The intention of tradition : contemporary contexts and contests of the Kwakwaka’wakw Hamat’sa dance Glass, Aaron J. 1999

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THE INTENTION OF TRADITION: Contemporary Contexts and Contests of the Kwakwaka'wakw Hamat'sa Dance by Aaron J. Glass B.A. Reed College, 1994 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF Master of Arts in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Department of Anthropology and Sociology) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard The University of British Columbia June 1999 © Aaron J. Glass, 1999 ln presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of / ^ A J T f / t o ? ° ' - o 6 V j^zioLo&y The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date -W-S* ? DE-6 (2788) 11 ABSTRACT This thesis explores the dialectical relationship between aboriginal and anthropological discourses of tradition and cultural performance. Specifically, I examine some ways in which concepts of tradition and culture are invoked in British Columbia's First Nations communities in order to negotiate, validate, and contest contemporary transformations to cultural practice. Two case studies of recent controversies within Kwakwaka'wakw communities are presented, one surrounding the bestowal of the Hamat'sa Dance on the pan-tribal American Indian Dance Theater for use in public presentations, the other involving the performance of the Hamat'sa— customarily a male prerogative— by women. This study addresses both local Kwakwaka'wakw dialogues about history and contemporary values, and the larger public, academic, and political environments in which those dialogues occur. This thesis takes as its broadest context these dialogues and shifts in the scale of identity and representation: between different native communities and different voices within them; between contests for local privilege and global control over "national" heritage; between indigenous peoples and the discipline of anthropology. I argue that tradition is best approached as a critical value emerging from these discourses, a concept which is intentionally used as a marker of present identity through strategic appeal to the past. TABLE OF CONTENTS iii Abstract ii Preface and Acknowledgments_ . iv INTRODUCTION: INVOKING TRADITION 1 Theorizing Tradition 2 The Tradition(s) of the Hamat'sa 5 PERFORMING TRADITION 8 Performing Theory _ ^ 8 Performing the Hamat'sa . 12 Transforming the Hamat'sa 14 Transforming Theory . : 18 ENGENDERING TRADITION 19 The Shackles of Tradition 20 Engendering the Hamat'sa \ 23 The Hegemony of Tradition; 25 A Tradition of Resistance 29 CONCLUSION: A COMPLEX CANNIBAL _32 Notes ; 38 References 44 PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iv Every spring in Alert Bay, a Kwakwaka'wakw1 community on a small island off the central coast of British Columbia, the local band-run elementary school holds its annual cultural celebration in which school kids perform the dances and songs now learned as part of the standard curriculum. As is now customary, even "traditional," for most potlatches or important local activities, a T-shirt is produced to commemorate the event. On the front of the 1993 shirt is the name of the school and the date of the celebration; on the back, surrounding a'crest-type design created by a local artist for the occasion, are the words: Alert Bay, Village of Culture. Cultural performances of this sort are commonplace in Alert Bay today, as they have been since at least the 1950s and 60s when public dancing was revived as both a commercially viable touristic enterprise and part of the re-emergent potlatch system. Since the 1980s, the community has also housed portions of the returned "Potlatch Collection," regalia confiscated from the area in 1922 and now displayed in the U'mista Cultural Centre, a small museum and archive. While foundationally a resource for community members to store and access objects, photographs and information relating to their family histories, U'mista and its staff have also been instrumental in increasing public knowledge of the contemporary Kwakwaka'wakw. Addressing native resiliency in the face of colonial disruption, they— along with the Kwagiulth Museum in Cape Mudge— have produced articles, videos and traveling exhibits, participated in international exchanges and conferences, and offered advisory input into more touristic endeavors. Both museums have been central in efforts to teach younger generations the language, arts and history to which they are heir, while marketing the same to the world at large. Such mobilization of "culture" is playing an increasingly important role in the maintenance of local and global identities, and in treaty negotiation, land claims and repatriation processes. In what follows, I explore the dialectical relationship between discourses of tradition and cultural performance. Specifically, I examine the ways in which concepts of tradition and culture are invoked in indigenous communities in order to negotiate, validate, and contest contemporary transformations to cultural practice. The Hamat'sa2 dance, presented locally and ethnographically as the most important ceremonial for the Kwakwaka'wakw, was selected as the focus-of-this- — examination as it has been historically central to issues of privilege, identity, and public representation. Two case studies of recent controversies within Kwakwaka'wakw communities are presented, one surrounding the bestowal of the Hamat'sa on the pan-tribal American Indian Dance Theater for use in their public presentations, the other involving the performance of the Hamat'sa— customarily a male prerogative— by women. Both critics and supporters of each practice articulate notions of traditional culture to argue their points, suggesting that local negotiations of cultural performance are not reducible to some "traditionalist" versus "progressivist" dichotomy. The topics and material for this study emerged from interviews conducted in 1998 and 1999 with over 1 Kwakwaka'wakw is the preferred self-designation for the group of people who speak Kwak'wala and have been previously known as Kwakiutl, an anglicized form of Kwag'iulth (the people residing in Ft. Rupert). 2 Pronounced HA-matsa, not like the unleavened bread Jews eat at Passover. V twenty Kwakwaka'wakw residing on reserves and in urban centers, supplemented by my own experiences with Kwakwaka'wakw communities dating back to 1993. Participants represent a broad cross-section of the community, and include both young and old, male and female, those with and without Hamat'sa privileges, those central and peripheral to public relations, education and performance activities. For the purpose of this thesis, and due to the politically sensitive nature of the debates, respondents' quotations are left anonymous; all emphases in direct quotations are original. There is a surprising dearth of critical attention to the ways in which First Nations of the Northwest Coast are reevaluating their performative expressions both internally and in the context of transnational politics. There have been a few efforts to account for contemporary Kwakwaka'wakw performance in its historical relationship to 18th and 19th century potlatches and ceremony (Holm 1977; Macnair 1977; Cranmer Webster 1991), but most of these are descriptive and in the context of understanding visual art. Recently, Ostrowitz (1996) examined what she terms Kwakwaka'wakw "performance art"— by which she means public, non-potlatch presentation of dances— as one case study of contemporary Northwest Coast art and its relationship to historical precedents. While she discusses the decisions made surrounding such performances, she focuses on the negotiated criteria of formal authenticity rather than on the political climate and ramifications of such decisions. Townsend-Gault (1994, 1997) is one of the few scholars exploring Northwest Coast art as a site of political contest and agency, but she confines her discussions to visual art and public meanings. This study is intended to fill a gap in the literature by addressing both local Kwakwaka'wakw dialogues about history and contemporary values, and the larger public, academic, and political environments in which those dialogues occur. The conversations, controversies, and contests surrounding the Hamat'sa that are taking place in Kwakwaka'wakw communities are embedded in the context of a much larger politics of identity and representation. In the age of treaties and repatriation, a legal language of strictly bounded tradition is required of First Nations to demonstrate what is held to be the validity of their claims. Likewise, a language of tradition and cultural authenticity is used by indigenous people to market themselves in an expanding and vital tourist economy, as the commodification of culture replaces resource-based industries in British Columbia. At both of these global sites, as well as in contexts more restricted to local communities, native people engage in a complex dialogue with anthropology, rejecting its colonial legacy while appropriating both the language and concept of "culture" as well as specific ethnographic texts. The rhetoric of reified culture and ancient traditions often deployed in debates over the Hamat'sa— as well as in court rooms and tourist brochures— owes as much to the methods, theories, and products of anthropology as it does to Western public and political expectations placed on First Nations. This thesis takes as its broadest context these larger dialogues and shifts in the scale of identity and representation: between different native communities and different voices within them; between contests for local privilege and global control over "national" heritage; between indigenous peoples and the discipline of anthropology. Tradition is a critical value which vi emerges from these discourses rather than constituting them, which strategically appeals to the past to validate the present, which has strong conceptual value as a marker of identity. Without the kind participation of the many Kwakwaka'wakw people with whom I spoke, this thesis surely would not have been possible; to all of you, a sincere Gilakas'la. I would like to extend thanks to my advisors Bruce Miller and Ruth Phillips for suggesting new ways to approach this material while being sensitive to the needs of both scholarship and the maintenance of working relationships with First Nations communities. I would also like to thank the Namgis First Nation for granting my request to conduct interviews in Alert Bay, and the friendly and gracious staff of the U'mista Cultural Centre for allowing access to their knowledge, experience, archives, and technical resources. Jo-Anne Fiske and Dara Culhane were extremely helpful in tracking down literature on women and First Nations issues, as was Julie Cruikshank when it came to aspects of performance. I have also benefited from discussions with Bill Holm, Phil Nuytten, Marjorie Halpin, Jay Powell, Andy Everson, Nancy Wachowich, Aldona Jonaitis, Charlotte-Townsend Gault, and Margaret Stott. That's it for the name dropping, now for the disclaimer: I am solely responsible for the content herein. 1 INTRODUCTION: INVOKING TRADITION Attention to the language and manner of contemporary cultural presentations reveals the extent to which First Nations are appropriating an anthropological discourse in order to construct and represent images of themselves. While the discipline has spent the last twenty years dismembering the concept of culture, native people have been deploying a reified and essentialized self-image, both for themselves and for outsiders. The legacy of anthropological description and analysis has left in its wake a tendency for societies to objectify or "substantivize" (Thomas 1992a) their historical practices, to render "culture as an entity that can then be codified, appealed to, stolen, lost, conserved or taught" (Thomas 1992b:228 fn #6). Roy Wagner (1981:62-4) suggests that the discipline's methods of objectification tend to "invent" the people studied and to create— much like advertising does— "cultures" as discrete products that can be displayed, bought and sold as needed. Furthermore, Dominguez (1992) describes how the anthropological concept of culture has become the defining feature of 20th century ethnic, social, and political rhetoric of unique identity. The continuous presence of ethnographers (academic, administrative, or amateur) in aboriginal communities reinforces the tendency for people to view themselves ethnographically (Thomas 1992b:217, 221; see also Conn 1987). The repressive and assimilative processes of colonialism aid in the objectification of the past for they distance people from the lived values and practices of ancestors (see Lilley 1989:88); much like exiles and immigrants, post-colonial communities often mobilize the past in order to perform their heritage to both themselves and others. Even in today's so-called post-modern, post-colonial world of cultural invention and creativity, of hybrids and transculturation, Strathern (1994:3) reflects on "the way in which anthropological knowledge enters other people's networks, contributes its bit to hybridity;" she reminds us "how implicated we are in the worlds we critique, how already appropriated is the language we use."1 At least in North America, the trend toward deploying a language of reified culture is necessitated partly by the treaty process which requires a strictly bounded (Euro-centric) legal language of tradition to define aboriginal rights and title, to demonstrate."seamless linear histories" (Crosby 1997:25-60; see also Dyck and Waldram 1993).2 But it is also part of interior, local discussions about history and the control of cultural representations. "The Western ideology of tradition, with its correlative assumption of unique cultural identity, has become an international political model that people all over the globe use to construct images of others and of themselves" (Handler and Linnekin 1984:287). These global models of culture are intimately tied to the economic necessity of tourism and popular expectations of authenticity (see MacCannell 1976). Performances for outsiders are one major venue in which communities consolidate and display emblematic- and consumable- aspects of their cultural heritage, events which often require considerable local negotiation as to the specific content and public interpretations offered. In addition to reference to such reified academic, political, and colloquial culture constructs, First Nations are increasingly- if ambivalently- using specific ethnographic texts to help in the 2 revitalization of their art (c.f. King 1997:88) and ceremony (c.f. Harkin 1997:105). There is a simultaneous borrowing3 and disavowal4 of such texts, encompassing recorded customs, descriptive and interpretive language, and social and economic outlines. Like the classic objectifying concept of culture, ethnography codifies what were fluid practices, thereby turning process into product (Dauenhauer and Dauenhauer 1995:97).5 The key point is that the introduction of historiography creates a "rare history tradition" with the accompanying selective reification of events and archivization of culture (Feest 1997:70); "a society with a concept of tradition has stopped living completely in tradition.... Tradition no longer belongs to therealm of fact but turns into an object of knowledge and, therefore, a basis of judgment" (Lenclud 1997:46). Anthropological texts— especially among the Kwakwaka'wakw who inherit one of the largest bodies of ethnographic material in North America if not the world— have a feedback effect in communities: once "traditions" are codified in books, they are more likely to be "revived" by subsequent generations.6 For example, one person mentioned family meetings in which a relative trained in anthropology dominates decisions about transferring names during potlatches: "It occurred to me that there would always be more people than there were names. So, what did they do before when there were more people? They created names, they must have. But now we can't, because we're stuck where [this relative] got off on the almost intellectualization of the whole thing, you know, where it becomes part of her training, and there's no room to do what would naturally have been done." Thus, contemporary traditions may be more rigid than the practices on which they are putatively based. This brings up the question of the origin of those traditions. Jeanne Canriizzo (1983) has suggested that the classic ethnographic portrait of "The Kwakiutl" may in fact be biased towards the family, lineage and village of Boas' chief informant and collaborator, George Hunt. The "entextualization" of culture may be one of the routes whereby specific privileges or performances become transformed over time into national emblems. The societies of the Northwest Coast may be particularly conducive to such cultural objectification, given the primary role played by representations (in the form of ranked names, family crests, masked dances and ceremonial privileges) and their public display in potlatches and other political "tournaments of value" (c.f. Appadurai 1983:21). Combine this tendency with the general anthropological, political and social value placed on culture and tradition (c.f. Mauze 1997:9-10), and the potlatch becomes a (perhaps the) central contemporary institution in which "traditional culture" is negotiated and performed in order to consolidate representational authority, define links to an authenticated and efficacious past, and maintain both local and global identities.7 Theorizing Tradition The last 20 years has seen a growing debate in the social sciences over how to approach tradition both theoretically and ethnographically. Tradition has been approached "traditionally" as the more or less stable set of customs, meanings, norms, and forms transmitted across generations 3 in any given society; in other words, culture consistent over time. The term has been used to describe social phenomena of various sorts: elements justified by putative precedents; elements recurrent over time; elements and meanings implicitly adhered to or taken for granted; elements explicitly used as markers of identity (Boyer 1997:23-4). Normative or merely historical, used unconsciously or strategically, traditions have been thought of as those aspects of social life most resistant to change and thus the strongest signifiers of authentic links to the past. By the 1960s, social scientists began to view tradition as a more dynamic, processual phenomenon, open to strategic interpretation within larger social dialectics, and most certainly not the conceptual antithesis of modernity (e.g. Barth 1966; Eisenstadt 1973a; Shils 1981). This important perspective resonates with more recent post-modern anthropology which assumes all cultural processes and performances to be inherently creative, synthetic, discursive, and dialogic. These developments have fostered deep theoretical rifts between approaches to and assumptions about tradition as an analytical category and an ethnographic phenomenon. Empirically minded and often Marxist scholars tend to expose practices as "invented" at some recognizable historic moment in an attempt to explicate the ways in which manipulation of culture serves an ideological or political agenda. While some (e.g. Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983) turn such attention to the inventions of colonial or nationalistic regimes, others (e.g. James Clifton 1990) suggest how indigenous peoples invent traditions in order to capitalize on popular stereotypes. This trend to identify specific traditions as strategically created is located within objectivist or positivist (see Linnekin 1992) assumptions about history where cultural authenticity or falsity can be evaluated scientifically, and is motivated by a political agenda to expose the ways in which ideology is linked to power. This approach tends to dismiss the "emic" value of local native discourse and explication as mere political rhetoric somehow divorced from an empirically valid and thus genuine culture (Hanson 1997:206). Likewise, its assumptions challenge a processual theory of culture by insisting on historically based truth-criteria for evaluating the authenticity of traditions (Harkin 1997:99-100). On the other hand, Clifton (1997) maintains that anthropologists who advocate for native groups by defending their public assertions across the board are doing a disservice to the empirical community by continuing the reification of invented traditions. In contrast, more constructivist or interpretivist (see Linnekin 1992) scholars tend to view all culture as a perpetual invention, and argue that the question of the authenticity of specific practices is thus a red herring (Linnekin 1991). If there is no stable center of culture and only sequences of representations and discursive acts in specific historical and political contexts, then all traditions are invented and reinvented constantly, and each is as authentic as any other. One approach is to recognize invention as the individual (subjective?) manipulation in specific performative contexts of forms, symbols and meanings otherwise conventional (objective?) in nature (Wager 1981:50). Thus tradition emerges, as does culture, from the dialectical interplay of representations and their negotiated meanings, individual manipulations and social norms, the past and the present (Handler and Linnekin 1984: 273-6). The authenticity of those traditions then becomes an issue of their 4 usefulness (Mauze 1997; Tuleja 1997) to current cultural projects, their affectiveness and effectiveness (Handler and Linnekin 1984:286; Harkin 1997:98) in fostering in people a sense of historically anchored identity and in granting them political agency. First Nations as well as any other are "moved by their own political agendas to appeal selectively and creatively to the tradition of their ancestors.... It follows from this that the analytic task is not to strip away the invented portions of culture as inauthentic, but to understand the processes by which they acquire authenticity" (Hanson 1989:898). This constructivist view frequently comes under attack by native peoples and their anthropological advocates as it is perceived to directly undermine the (often reified) cultural claims of identity and title which First Nations are struggling to define for themselves in a presumably post-colonial world (see Hanson 1997 on the controversy following his 1989 article).8 How then are we to speak about tradition(s) while avoiding both strict empirical judgment (anthropologists accusing First Nations of falsifying specific practices as invented) and attacks by native advocates (First Nations accusing anthropologists of falsifying their entire culture as invented). One way is to listen carefully to the ways in which people actually speak about tradition in evaluating their own current cultural transformations. When we do, we find that people invoke concepts of tradition and culture to define, validate and legitimize contemporary practices regardless of their actual historical pedigree. Tradition is in this sense a selective and "implied" history (Mauze 1997:5), a "retroprojection" or "reverse filiation" of the present into the past— according to local and negotiated criteria of authenticity— as a means of justifying and explaining mobilizations of culture (Poullon 1980:39: 1997:17). Ethnographically codified concepts and practices aid in the local selection of cultural elements chosen to play a central role in the representation of identity and heritage. The techniques of historiography make it easier to translate tradition from an unconscious guide to behavior into a consciously invoked and manipulated concept (see Tilley 1989:95; Mauze 1997:8). The irony is that deployment of "tradition" and "culture" as powerful concepts in service of such "intentional identities" (Tuleja 1997:138) demands the fluid nature of the, actual practices subject to negotiation. Speaking of the intentional use of tradition as a conceptual value, Harkin (1997:98) argues that "such framing or re-framing of symbols is always political." Appeals to past authenticity confer authority on present claims and aid in the presentation (and control) of traditions as "normative models" (Eisenstadt 1973a: 133; Linnekin 1992:251), as the limitations imposed on possible innovation. Tradition serves not only as a symbol of continuity but as the delineator of the legitimate limits of creativity and innovation and as the major criterion of their legitimacy— even if in fact any such symbol of tradition might have been forged out as a great innovative creation which destroyed what till then was perceived as the major symbol of the legitimate past." (Eisenstadt 1973a: 163) Innovation is thus not the opposite of tradition, but its conceptual limit, the creative factor which grants tradition its rhetorical value as an appeal to (the illusion of) past stability and authenticity, as the legitimator of innovation (Kan 1990:358 gives a Tlingit example of such rhetoric).9 Both tradition and innovation have strong conceptual value as signifiers, and both are 5 appealed to by all peoples in their contemporary negotiations of culture. "Traditions" emerge not as actual practices or meanings rooted in an atemporal past but as intentional models or symbols of that past, just as "culture" emerges in local native contests and negotiations as well as global dialogic relations with anthropological, political, and popular discourse strategies (Bauman and Briggs 1990:71, 91; Thomas 1992b:213). Such a semiotic approach to tradition privileges its emic value as a local cognitive model of cultural vitality over its (highly suspect) etic value as an analytic model of actual historic succession. By insisting that tradition and innovation are part of the same cultural processes and products, we avoid both the debates between empirical and advocacy-minded researchers, and the pitfalls of the authenticity issue because we avoid altogether making "truth" claims for current cultural projects based on presumed historical accuracy. Instead, we focus on the ways in which people invoke concepts of tradition to negotiate, validate, contest, and control contemporary cultural transformations, in an attempt to answer the question: Where do aboriginal "traditions" now stand in relation to our diverse and hybrid "conditions of life?" And how is the concept of tradition being used at this historical moment to define and authenticate aboriginal peoples' relations "to each other and to the others" at personal, community, national and institutional levels? (Crosby 1997:24) The Tradition(s) of the Hamat'sa The following case studies will illustrate such a dialectical approach by exploring the ways in which Kwakwaka'wakw people implicate concepts of tradition and culture in response to current transformations to the Hamat'sa dance, described in the communities as well as in the literature as their "most important dance." I choose this as a test case because of its historical and ethnographic centrality in representations of the Kwakwaka'wakw, and because of its visibility in local, museological, and performative contexts. I will focus on two recent debates that suggest the extreme malleability of tradition because they offer limiting cases as to how far one can innovate with the Hamat'sa before it causes deep local resentments and forces complex local negotiations of contested claim to privileges and the rights of representation. The first issue is its performance (for money) by non- Kwakwaka'wakw dancers in a touristic, folklore setting; this accesses the history of performing ritual for outsiders, the commodification of culture, and local debates on the value of preservation versus education. The second issue surrounds the bestowing of the Hamat'sa (and the right to its performance) on women; here we engage the articulation of "traditional native" and "modern Western" values, dynamics of gender in the negotiation of heritage, and the clash of values between urban and reserve life. Both issues are hotly debated in communities today, both intersect with individual and tribal scales of identity, and both have deep implications for the control of cultural representation, locally and globally. The Hamat'sa in fact has a long history of centrality in issues of personal, social, and cultural identity, display and representation. The dance ceremonially enacts the removal, possession, taming and re-socializing of an initiate into the Hamat'sa Society (basically, the group of previous initiates with the hereditary or bestowed rights to the prerogative). It seems to have been acquired by 6 the Kwakwaka'wakw in the early 1800s, usually sought after and incorporated through intermarriage or warfare with Owikeeno (River's Inlet) and Heiltsuk (Bella Bella) neighbors to the north.10 The early 19th century was a time of great transition for the Kwakwaka'wakw as they adjusted to colonial participation in trade networks, social alliances, religious expression, and artistic forms. The combined effects of population decline due to disease, colonial pressure to assimilate, missionization, and expanded trade led to the restructuring of previous social relations, negotiated primarily in expanded potlatching and public display. Eric Wolf (1999), drawing heavily on Vernon Kobrinsky (1975), recently argued that it was in this historical context of "crisis" that the Ft. Rupert nobility mobilized ritual ideology and "culture" in an effort to consolidate their power over an upwardly mobile class of people vying for chiefly privileges through adoption of "new" ceremonies such as the Hamat'sa.11 There is also indication that the Hamat'sa may have been at the center of very specific inter-village rivalries.12 In any case and although recently introduced, it was almost immediately elevated within the secret society system of the Winter Ceremonial. By the time Boas recorded the first detailed descriptions of the Hamat'sa in 1894, it was being spoken of as the highest ranked, most sacred, and most important prerogative. It was also appropriated and performed by other Northwest Coast groups at home and overseas for touristic displays in the late 19th century (see Haberland 1987 on Nuxalk performances of the Hamat'sa in Germany). The Hamat'sa is usually referred to as "The Cannibal Dance," probably due to Boas' consistent translation of it as such.13 The dance had certain cannibalistic imagery relating to its mythological origin stories, local interpretations and elaborate staging, but the extent to which actual cannibalism was ever practiced remains obscure.141 think it is probable that much of the emphasis on cannibalism in the Hamat'sa is due to Boas' and subsequent anthropologist's (as well as Kwakwaka'wakw people's) interest in the exoticness of the practice. It was the violent imagery of the potlatch, most specifically the Kwakwaka'wakw Hamat'sa, which led the Federal Government in the 1886 Indian Act prohibiting the potlatch to include mention of the "Tamanawas" (or "medicine dance" from the Chinook, applied to the entire coast). In 1895 this was "clarified" by adding the description: "any celebration or dance of which the wounding or mutilation of the dead or living body of any human being or animal forms a part or is a feature." Thus the Hamat'sa, and specifically its association with cannibalism, played a central role not only in inter-village social relations, but in colonial dynamics more broadly. Following successful persecution of the Kwakwaka'wakw potlatch in 1921, most public dancing ceased as the potlatch went underground, usually consisting of covert gift distributions to mark important events. As missionization became more entrenched and effective due to residential school attendance, the values of the Hamat'sa were held up as representative of everything evil and uncivilized in native life: dirty, wild, possessed, cannibalistic. The fact that it had become so central and sacred in the Winter Ceremonials may have granted it conceptual currency as a sign of the aboriginal (and savage) past; it became vilified precisely because it was traditional and not modern. "The fact of objectification always permitted a rejection of what was customary in favor of its 7 antithesis: this rejection can be described as the inversion of tradition" (Thomas 1992b:223). In the 1950s and 60s, when dancing was revived for local fund-raisers, tourist performances and potlatches, the Hamat'sa was often presented as the "Wildman;" in fact, among the generation who matured in those years, it is still so translated. This selective deployment of culture may have been part of local efforts to amend public representation for outsiders as well as to integrate traditional practices with Christian values.15 In the meantime, museums continued to collect Hamat'sa masks and prominently display them as "Cannibal Birds." By the 1970s and 80s, the masks were being repatriated, the potlatch revitalized, and the culture "reborn." Today, people still understand the Hamat'sa (and now present it publicly once again) as the Cannibal Dance. Part of the Hamat'sa's 20th century trajectory is its transformation from the most selective, secretive and sacred prerogative of individual (chiefly) families, to the most publicly visible, museified, and (I would argue) emblematic image of "The Kwakiutl" in general. One dancer called it "the marquee dance of the whole society." Although the Hamat'sa is now taught in the Alert Bay band-run school to all children, native and non, a language of rank and restriction still surrounds it; only those with the hereditary privilege to claim it get initiated into the "secret" society.16 There is a palpable tension between local contests— for individual status and negotiations of specific family and village rivalries— and more global representations— of the dance as belonging to The Kwakwaka'wakw Nation, a reified and locally problematic scale of identity often employed in treaty and tourist productions.17 Such a transfer in scale may be common in certain historical, often colonial, moments of rapid social change. Eisenstadt (1973a: 155; 1973b:6) discusses how "modernization" proves a challenge to earlier mechanisms of symbolic and normative power by introducing contests over control of (newly articulated, rationalized, and formalized) "traditions," thereby setting tendencies toward partialization and privatization against generalization and equality of access. "'Tradition' becomes differentiated in layers" (ibid 1973b:21).18 Thomas (1992b:214-5) calls specific attention to the role that anthropological objectifications play in the selection of emblematic customs, and the dialogues of particularization and totalization that result between local and global scales of identity: In particular, objectified practices and social totalities can be seen to be manifest in each other.. . . The community that is imagined is not simply conceived of in its empirical complexity; its distinctiveness is understood, rather, through particular resonant practices and characteristics. In a dialectical process, the group and the particular practices are redefined as they come to connote each other. 1 9 The Hamat'sa is centrally entangled in these theoretical and political dialogues (both within communities and with society at large), as it perhaps always has been. As it is re-evaluated, reinterpreted, and restructured, it opens new cultural possibilities to those controlling its accessibility, performance, and representation. It is important to note, however, that the rivalries within communities over control over cultural representation are emphatically not between "traditionalists" and "progressives" (contra Kan 1989); culture emerges in the dialectic of stability and change, and everybody invokes concepts of both tradition and innovation at different moments of discourse. The more the Hamat'sa is continually- and intentionally-and reinvented, the more important and emblematic it is becoming as a tradition. 8 recontextualized PERFORMING TRADITION There is no area... which does not have artists actively trying to use, appropriate, reconcile, come to terms with, exploit, understand - the words and political tone may vary, but the substance doesn't - the relationships between local cultures in their extreme particular historical development and the increasingly complex and multiple contacts and interactions not only among various cultures locally and regionally but on a global and interspecific scale.... In a world where so-called universal values each day run up against deeply held local values and experiences, the result is clash, disturbance, turbulence, unease about the future, and hot argument about what the past was. (Schechner 1993:16-17) The notion that artistic productions are both constituted by and constituent of culture— that creative endeavors both reflect and re-invent tradition— and that such innovative praxis operates in complex social and political networks of reference and influence, provides one of the primary presuppositions of performance theory. While it is easy to recognize public actions as discrete moments of dramatic experience, identifying and defining what constitutes a "performance" for analytic purposes has proven an evasive task. Perhaps the conceptual fluidity of the term (as with culture, tradition, religion, kinship and virtually every etic category ever invented for the social sciences) is its analytical strength. Performing Theory While early 20th century anthropologists such as Boas and Malinowski demanded serious attention to both material and expressive culture as a means of aiding in the (re)construction of underlying patterns, standard social scientific practice assumed that such public elements were mere reflections of determinant social structures.20 Drawing on DeSaussure's distinction between two fundamentally different but dialectically engaged aspects of language, what he called la langue (underlying, abstract system of rules and structures) and la parole (individual manipulation and expression in observable behavior), linguists of the Prague School began to focus on the latter, on the way in which language is emergent, creative, and socially and culturally constituted. Chomsky, would go on to translate these into linguistic competence (unconscious encoding of the rules structuring language use) and performance (external utilization for communicative purposes).21 The focus on linguistic or cultural performance in this sense has been very influential on the study of folklore through recognition of the public, creative, and often individual expressive aspects of meaningful communication. By the 1960s and 70s, scholars within the social sciences reacted strongly against the strict determinisms of earlier paradigms (social, ecological, neo-evolutionary, linguistic) by importing analytic concepts and methodologies from other humanities disciplines (c.f. Geertz 1980). Anthropologists and sociologists began to take seriously the notion that cultural performances were not only expressive of underlying social reality, they helped to shape that reality itself. Here, an interpretive or hermeneutic focus on specific performances became the methodological means to 9 better characterize (a) culture. These studies often used the idea of the interpretive "frame" to reveal the specific performative contexts in which cultural patterns are translated into/transformed by social action. Allied to this were developments in "practice theory" as formulated by Bourdieu, Giddens, Sahlins, and Ortner, which examined the dialectical processes by which social agents draw upon and transform cultural codes in order to fashion viable identities and meanings (see Ortner 1996). By the 1980s and 90s, however, the post-modern or constructivist turn in the social sciences suggested that culture itself is best characterized as performance, thereby challenging the classical notion that rules and systems and structures underlie the stability or coherence of cultures (c.f. Wagner 1982; Clifford 1988). So "performance" has been used— at least— to suggest the expressive acts of culture (the linguistic sense), the methodological object for the interpretation of culture (the hermeneutic sense), the dialectical production of culture (the "practice" sense), and the very nature of culture (the constructivist sense). Proponents of all would agree that something interesting happens when the "performance of culture" in general is realized through the production of specific cultural performances. These discrete, observable events might include what Schechner (1993:20) calls "the four great spheres of performance— entertainment, healing, education, and ritualizing." That these spheres overlap significantly is illustrated by attention to the complexities of the Hamat'sa. Potlatches and Winter Ceremonials included the elaborate staging and dramatic re-enactments of ancestral encounters as well as more mundane scenes from history and legend, and the fact that they were ritual events does not preclude the audience's theatrical enjoyment of them (Boas 1966:354; Allen 1997). Furthermore, the entertainment value of the Hamat'sa shifted over the years, and depended greatly on the specific context and goals of its presentation. While the specific, initiatory symbolism of the dance suggests the possession and ultimate taming of the neophyte dancer, in contemporary contexts the Hamat'sa itself (along with other performances) has become part of the rhetoric of "cultural healing" more broadly. Likewise, teaching school kids the movements of the dance, initiating individuals into the ranks of Hamat'sa, and performing for tourists, exhibit openings and visiting dignitaries all have educational value in various venues and for.different target identities.. This one example highlights the importance of the interpretive context, the performer's intentionality or agency, and the desired audience to the understanding of cultural performances (c.f. Bauman and Briggs 1990:67-9). In an attempt to operationalize approaches to cultural performance, Victor Turner (1974, 1982, 1986) and Richard Schechner (1985, 1988, 1993) have suggested various developmental, structural, processual, and dialectical models. Turner (1982:30) argues that the notion of an autonomous theater experience separate from that of ritual is impossible before industrialization introduces the social role of leisure.22 Accordingly, when ritual becomes theater, what was serious work becomes mere play, what was a community endeavor becomes individual expression, what was obligatory becomes optional, what was often rural become urbanized, what was sacred become secular. Schechner (1988:108) distinguishes between ritual activities which "do" something and 10 theatrical activities which merely "show" something (c.f. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998:4). Yet, given complex ethnographic contexts, he denies the "ritual" versus "theater" dichotomy, as well as the "authentic" versus "tourist" dualism, and posits instead a continuum of performance types, what he calls "the efficacy-entertainment braid" (1988:120) or the "infinity loop" (ibid: 190). Here, the efficacy of ritual or social dramas is dialogically constitutive of/constituted by entertaining aesthetic dramas. Performance emerges as a dynamic process of and means to expressive culture. In certain kinds of performances, such as the potlatch, the "braiding" of efficacy and entertainment is especially tight where dramatic enactment of staged theatrical events is directly entangled with social structures, political relationships, and historical contests. Regarding such performative structures, Turner writes: The stage drama, when it is meant to do more than entertain. . . is a metacommentary, explicit or implicit, witting or unwitting, on the major social dramas of its social context. . . . Life itself now becomes a mirror held up to art, and the living now perform their lives, for the protagonists of a social drama, a "drama of living," have been equipped by aesthetic drama with some of their most salient opinions, imageries, tropes, and ideological perspectives, (quoted in Schechner 1988:191) That contemporary potlatch dances challenge the ritual-theater dichotomy has been routinely maintained by Northwest Coast ethnographers. Kan (1990:363) suggests how public performances are not necessarily desacralized, and may indeed be one of the routes whereby theater feeds back into ritual. Likewise, Ostrowitz (1996:126, 147, 153) demonstrates how local concerns over rank and privilege, are often worked out behind the scenes at public dance exhibitions otherwise thought to be touristic or diplomatic events. Certainly, the tensions between efficacy and entertainment are negotiated within potlatches themselves, as people decide whether or not to take photos, clap after unusually dramatic or rare presentations, and display their "souvenir" hats and T-shirts. Grandparents, fond of recounting how strict "traditional" potlatch protocol was in their days, will admonish children (and parents) not to eat or talk during the performances, as such behavior might enrage the Hamat'sa. Here we find a "ritual" interpretation being applied to behavior typically -unacceptable in "theater" environments. One important factor in the characterization of ritualized and theatrical performance is the identity of both fhe performers and the audience. Both Turner (1982:112) and Schechner (1988:126) suggest that ritual gatherings do not distinguish between audience and participants while theatrical events specifically segregate the two spatially, functionally, and conceptually. This separation has multiple facets: ritual audiences usually share knowledge of the performance and its meanings, creating a sense of "communitas" or communal connection, whereas meanings are usually explained or interpreted to theater audiences by individual performers like MCs. Furthermore, ritual congregations are usually required to attend events as their efficacy is often believed to have social or religious consequence, while theater attendance is voluntary and for enjoyment. Schechner (1988:194) clarifies these qualities by showing how audience participation, 11 either "integral" (extreme ritual obligation) or "accidental" (total theatrical choice), is actually orthogonal to performance type. For example, tourists or visitors are allowed to attend most Kwakwaka'wakw potlatches, while community members are free to come and go. Comparing folklore presentations to museum objects, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1998:62) suggests that "songs, dances, and ritual practices are also ethnographically excised and presented as self-contained units, though not in quite the same way as material artifacts. You can detach artifacts from their makers, but not performances from their performers." Yet the following case study examines the dynamics occurring when the performers of the Hamat'sa are not in fact Kwakwaka'wakw; they may be inextricably tied to the stage movements, but it is their distance from the original owners, interpreters, and "makers" of the dance that elicits contestation over their right to perform it in the first place. In the context of the potlatch, the "performers" or host family, in displaying their hereditary privileges to others, always kept a clear physical, conceptual and dramatic boundary between themselves and the audience or "witnesses." Despite their being efficacious rituals with community participation, potlatches again blur the boundary between ritual and theater. Comparing public, traditional or "heritage" performances to objects, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1998:1) suggests a political economy of display in which both are removed from their originating sources and recontextualized and reinterpreted elsewhere. This suggests that local rituals are performed in the context of their origin and ceremonial function, while the "hallmark of heritage productions— perhaps their defining feature— is precisely the foreignness of the 'tradition' to its context of presentation" (ibid: 157). In terms of potlatch dances, this implies that local participants display their rank and prerogatives to insiders, while public performers display their culture to global outsiders. This emphasis on performative context and audience identity locates the value of authenticity in a performance's reception rather than production (ibid: 11, 203), and suggests that struggles over interpretive control— whether wielded at the source or destination of the cultural practice— demand attention to the hegemony of folkloristic presentation (c.f. Fine and Speer 1992:16). Performances at both local and global scales appeal to tradition, to the "normative . expectation" (Schechner 1993:190) that both adhere to some preconceived (or negotiated) criterion of authenticity. Schechner (ibid: 192) suggests that this local concern over traditional accuracy is itself a bi-product of Western textual scholarship, a concern perpetuated in most folklife festivals today. More importantly, the very process of display "is an interface that mediates and thereby transforms what is shown into heritage" (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998:76), decontextualizing practices and congealing them elsewhere (or at home) into reified culture or traditions. Such objectified cultural practices become the object of both local (reflexive) and ethnographic (descriptive/analytical) interest, as people come to think "of their culture as encapsulated in these discrete performances, which they [can] exhibit to visitors and to themselves" (Singer 1972:71; c.f. Turner 1982:75, 92, 108). 12 Performing the Hamat'sa In arguing that the Hamat'sa has become such an encapsulation or "key performance" (Fine and Speer 1992:13, 121) for the Kwakwaka'wakw, and to contextualize current contests over its presentation, a brief view of its performance history is in order (see Holm 1977 and Ostrowitz 1996 for discussions of performative change). As discussed above, the Hamat'sa was introduced to Kwakwaka'wakw territory in the early 19th century from Heiltsuk and Owikeeno neighbors and relatives to the north. Replacing the existing cannibalistic Hamshamt'sas, it was almost immediately elevated to the highest ranking position in the secret societies, at least according to most local and ethnographic sources.23 Privileges adopted from neighboring groups were probably learned either mimetically through witnessing previous potlatch or ceremonial displays, or through direct instruction by marriage partners or captive slaves. Kobrinsky (1975) suggests that it was specifically the introduced novelty of the Hamat'sa that granted it currency in mobilizations of power; it was recognized as highly ranked, but available to anyone who could argue a legitimate claim to its possession and display. Likewise, Nuytten (personal communication, 1999, Vancouver) comments on how the Hamat'sa drew on existing dramatic formulas, characters, and imagery, rearranging them to form a new and highly desirable configuration. My own research explores the possibility that the Hamat'sa, approached as a signifying practice, may have played a semiotic role in structuring representation of the colonial encounter itself, and that the cannibalistic symbolism of consumption, death and rebirth may be intrinsically related to and resistant of larger European assimilative agendas (Glass 1998). Along with its centrality in potlatch and Winter Ceremonial displays, the Hamat'sa was also performed for the general public as early as the 1880s. Boas arranged to have several Kwakwaka'wakw families present at the Chicago World's Columbia Exposition in 1893 and the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, for which he hired George Hunt to coordinate both mundane and ritual performances (see Cole 1985:129-31, 202). The dance that most captured the public's interest was the Hamat'sa, and it seems that the Kwakwaka'wakw ensured their own entertainment while continuously educating (and frightening) Victorian audiences.24 It is intriguing to speculate on exactly how these performers viewed their dance presentations, and how they specifically untangled the "efficacy-entertainment braid" while living thousands of miles from home. Performances for ethnographic purposes (including attendance at the World's Fairs as well as participation in films made by both Curtis [1915] and Boas [1930]) were accompanied by those serving more diplomatic goals. As early as 1887, Numgis people from Alert Bay celebrated the Queen's Jubilee by playing sports and having canoe races (DIA Annual Report, Kwawkewlth District, 1887:110). By 1913, dances were held to entertain His Royal Highness the Governor General on a visit to reserves (ibid 1913:225-6). In 1937, groups from Alert Bay, New Vancouver, and Village Island assembled in regalia to show support in celebrating the Coronation of George VI (see Ostrowitz 1996:156). Beginning around 1952, local performances were organized every May to celebrate Victoria Day, potlatch dances which would conclude with the singing of "O Canada" 13 (The Pioneer Journal [Alert Bay], May 28, 1952:3rd Year, #17:1). By 1959, Kwakwaka'wakw delegations performed dances, including the Hamat'sa, for Queen Elizabeth during her visit to British Columbia (Spradley 1969:209-210). I think it is possible to see these public performances for provincial or national holidays as coinciding with and supporting expanding native claims for self-government, historical redress, and (ultimately) repatriation. It is important to note the tone and context of these presentations given this audience. Native speakers were quick to display their success in modernizing and their desire to be functioning members of Canadian society. As such, they emphasized that their dance tradition was a benign one, used to discipline and educate children, to function as a "diversion" and form of entertainment over long winter months; instead of suggesting deeply spiritual or ritual efficacy, as might have been done to World's Fair or contemporary audiences, it was announced that "they were just playing" (quotes by dance presenters from the 1950s, in Ostrowitz 1996:132-3).25 Such interpretation was presented to the government at the turn of the century in protest over the anti-potlatch law by both natives and their anthropological advocates (Boas described dances as "harmless amusements" to a colonial audience [in Stocking 1974:107]). This historic discourse may have been later supplemented by an internalization of mission proselytizing against the evils of paganism. In any case, performance here takes on a specifically political as well as entertainment or educational role.26 The DIA Kwawkewlth District Annual Report for 1907 (pg.408) mentions steamships en route to Alaska stopping in Alert Bay, the tourists "delighted" to be shown the local mission school. By 1910, the report discusses for the first time the allure of local totem poles (pg.234). In 1916, a few new "Indian Houses" were built in Alert Bay (pg. 111), a curious fact given the administration's attempt to eradicate the large communal dwellings in favor of single family homes. As the 20th century sailed onwards, so too did thousands of tourists, and by the 1950s and 60s, the Kwakwaka'wakw began organizing dance performances for the visiting public. Here too, interpretation was carefully selective, emphasizing social dances and spiritual values tied to the natural world while downplaying the role of status rivalry,.competition and warfare, and. . . cannibalistic imagery in "traditional" potlatches. It was in this touristic context that the Hamat'sa was translated as "The Wild Man" and interpreted as "The Rebirth of Man" in a schedule printed up for Alert Bay performances in the 1960s; the ritual nature of the initiation process is alluded to, but in the context of general spiritual or cultural growth. It is also interesting to note how many of today's middle-aged dancers, artists and potlatch participants, those held to be the future knowledgeable elders, learned the cultural practices through these touristic performances in the first place, and now look to them to provide "traditional" precedents for current presentations (see Ostrowitz 1996:154). As one singer suggested, "when I started teaching dancing or whenever we presented something, we've always just followed the pattern of what our elders did with the Kwak'wala Arts and Craft's Raven Society," even though, as another points out, they were innovating (or "inventing stuff as one woman put it) at the time: "they brought it upon 14 themselves, they didn't go looking in any books to say this is how it is going to be based, they said this is how we'll do it."27 In all of these performative contexts— ethnographic, diplomatic, and touristic— there was an important shift away from local potlatch discourse which foregrounds individual (or lineage) rights, ownership and display, to the presentation of dances as examples of Kwakwaka'wakw culture. While dance groups were careful to ensure that at least one participating performer carried the rights to the dances presented, there was a loosening of strict requirements of protocol as to ownership of privilege and rights to perform. In presenting the capacity of indigenous people in general to adapt, govern themselves, and contribute to a Canadian nationality, "tribal identities of the various subgroups or individual chiefs were not announced" (Ostrowitz 1996:136), and this remains true at contemporary performances for general audiences (ibid: 142). This illustrates one of the hallmark traits of generalization (Eisenstadt's term), conventionalization (Wagner's term), or totalization (Thomas' term), the process whereby specific practices are transformed into emblematic "traditions."28 Whereas in potlatch contexts, the Hamat'sa is performed as an individual, ranked prerogative to a knowing audience of participants, in more theatrical and public situations, it is displayed as the (remarkably dramatic) cultural property of the Kwakwaka'wakw. Transforming the Hamat'sa It is precisely control over this transformation which lies at the heart of local controversy over the performance of the Hamat'sa by non- Kwakwaka'wakw. Rights to the Hamat'sa were— and still are spoken of as— selective and restricted to a limited number of chiefly families. Undoubtedly they underwent a certain degree of "democratization" as people scrambled for positions due to population decline while the potlatch expanded in scope and competitiveness (c.f. Codere 1950). But there is also historical precedent for transference of the dance privilege to outsiders, be they non- Kwakwaka'wakw natives or whites. There are many local stories of people marrying outside of Kwakwaka'wakw communities, with the Hamat'sa being included in marriage exchange.29 In addition, during the 1950s, many natives, especially those leading the move to modernize and assimilate, gave Hamat'sa privileges to white scholars and friends (including Bill Holm, Phil Nuytten, Don Lelooska, and John Livingston), perhaps as part of the diplomatic outreach to a larger Canadian society.30 All such decisions are hotly contested within communities, as are most public maneuvers regarding status, privileges and display, and again relate to the specifics of intended audience and performative context, be it educational, theatrical, or lucrative. Such debates crested recently when in 1993 a hereditary chief from Alert Bay gave the American Indian Dance Theater (AIDT)— a pan-tribal, professional dance group from the United States— the rights to perform the Hamat'sa as part of a new Northwest Coast segment of their touring show. The company is made up of native people from throughout North America, and each member performs dances from the various peoples represented. They had approached the U'mista Cultural Centre and requested the rights to perform the Hamat'sa as part of a video series they were 15 involved in producing. The transferring of rights to the Hamat'sa entailed being taught the dance movements and songs involved, explanation of its meaning, and the loan of masks to use in its performance. It also consisted of a more-or-less formal ceremony of transference which took place at U'mista with the group, the chief, and selected elders. One of the first public performance of the new segment was given in Victoria, B.C. at the First People's Festival in August 1993. The chief and his son were on hand to sing the Hamat'sa songs, while members of the Dance Theater performed the "most important dance of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation." Opinion over this is divided among the Kwakwaka'wakw, and the right of the chief to give the Hamat'sa away is hotly contested. For many cultural conservatives who take issue with any touristic performance, this was a double insult: it was done for entertainment and money, and by non- Kwakwaka'wakw. For them, the transformation of a ceremonial practice into a "show" profanes the dance and endangers the cultural integrity of the Kwakwaka'wakw. A former curator at U'mista took issue with the fact that the Dance Theater states that they perform "strictly social dances. . . . I objected to that, is that really why people went to jail, so that these American Indians could perform something that was more than just a social dance? It made it sound like a Pow-wow thing." One person suggested that "you got to give money away, its too sacred to play around with," and when describing such shows for tourists, she quickly corrects herself when mentioning "our sacred costumes— regalia, not costumes." Her son, a talented Hamat'sa dancer and artist who used to perform for tourists in the 1960s, objected to "giving it to a bunch of people who don't care, [for whom] its just a show. Its not a show, it never was a show, its an ownership, property." One chief distinguishes his movements in potlatches from those of the Dance Theater: "I'm not a performer. When I perform, I mean it. But when they perform, they do it for the public. I can't do that. Because that's not the way I was brought up." All of the people just quoted distinguish between their participation in potlatch displays— in which many dances (especially the Hamat'sa) are regarded as sacred and the property of specific individuals— and more theatrical displays. In the 1950s and 60s, when assimilation to Canadian society was more highly regarded by those presenting dances to outsiders, it was announced that performances were harmless diversions, mere playing. Turner suggests that it is the power of theatrical performances to "play with the factors of culture" (1982:40, original emphasis) in order to continually re-invent it and charge it with potency. But given that "In the West, play is a rotten category, an activity tainted by unreality, inauthenticity, duplicity, make believe, looseness, fooling around, and inconsequentiality" (Schechner 1993:27), it is understandable that now— given the seriousness of traditional cultural representations in the era of multiculturalism and land claims-people insist "You can't go playing with the culture" (a common phrase for breaches in protocol). Many people are specifically outraged because the performers have no hereditary rights to the Hamat'sa, because "some people care about these things belonging to families, you know. We don't fool around there." "People don't go by what's right and wrong, it goes by who you are related to, that's all." Without having been formally initiated in a potlatch context, and without 16 receiving family-owned names, no transfer of the Hamat'sa can be traditionally validated.31 People repeatedly emphasize that the Hamat'sa privilege, and the names bestowed with it "have to come from somewhere... you can't invent a name for a Hamat'sa, you can't make it up. Its got to come-- its got to go way back in history." Ultimately, this comes down to a matter of identity, though what scale of identification individuals choose to appeal to is variable. One woman characterized the AIDT as not only non- Kwakwaka'wakw and American, but non-native.32 One artist reports that according to the way it was done "in the old days... if you own a Hamat'sa, and you don't have a son, its not proper to give it to just anybody, you have to give it to a blood relation." This illustrates the notion that current rhetoric of ethnonationalism in heritage displays privileges "descent" over "consent" in determining group membership and rights to representation (Sollors 1982). Even though the AIDT had the consent of the chief (though not of the "Nation"), they certainly didn't satisfy the hereditary requirements. By stating that the rights to perform the Hamat'sa have to come from a chief in one's family, people are arguing for a historical pedigree, a genealogical tradition to validate the claim to ownership.33 Yet there seems to be some recognition that not all privileges are acquired through genealogical channels^  that they can (and always were) transferred in various other social exchanges. For example, one man recounted the story of how the Hamat'sa was originally brought into Kwakwaka'wakw territory through marriage and war, and then challenged the AIDT's claim to it because they didn't earn it "when my ancestors went out and fought someone for it. When some poor woman had to go marry some stranger from up north to get it." Another individual, acknowledging earlier that "gifts" of the Hamat'sa and other ceremonial prerogatives are passed in marriage dowries (a traditional means of couching exchange in social rather than economic terms), then insists that "you can't just buy it." Furthermore, even if one allows that exchange was a traditional means of acquiring dance privileges, the AIDT had the nerve to "tell us that they had a low budget, right away. And to pay us as cheap as they can pay us to get these masks." More than anything though, people complained that an individual chief has no right to give the Hamat'sa away, that it is not his to decide it's fate. "I don't think we have the right to do-that. No one, no one person, and there's a lot of people around that really figure that they're the person. And that they don't have to answer to anybody. We have to answer to our nation, all the time." This shifts focus onto the fact that the exchange of performative displays is a social process, and one which tests the alienability of culture at the source (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998:8,165). In other words, what implications does the removal and recontextualization of objects or performances— from original owners/makers to new, often geographically and socially removed contexts of representation— have for claims to intellectual and cultural property? The display of cultural heritage through touristic, theatrical, or museological productions alienates both the practices and the right of original owners to determine interpretive and performative content. But to what extent can we interpret "cultural property" to signify the property of an entire culture? 17 This dynamic is complicated on the Northwest Coast, where the right to claim and display dances is marked by individual ownership and prerogative. Critics of this chiefs decision point to their conviction that a single individual cannot determine how their entire culture is going to be represented in foreign contexts, much less by people who are not themselves Kwakwaka'wakw and who are making money in the process. One woman, a Kwakwaka'wakw coordinator for the First People's Festival where the AIDT premiered the show (and to whom many people voiced dissenting opinions), said the Hamat'sa is "not open to contemporary interpretation. Because it is cultural property. [That chief] did not have the right to give it. It is shared amongst high ranking Kwakwaka'wakw society. It is not like jazz or tap." For such critics, all of these factors— the alienation of the Hamat'sa from local ownership/control based on the (perceived) decision of a single person and its subsequent theatrical performance by non- Kwakwaka 'wakw for profit— challenge the traditional importance and sacredness attached to the dance and the right to claim and display it. Defenders of the act suggest just the opposite using the same language of tradition, arguing that a chief has always had the right to distribute his personal property as he sees fit, be it through potlatching, marriage, or trade. When people complained to U'mista's Board of Directors, the chief insisted that neither the Cultural Centre nor the Band Council much less the entire community was making this transfer, but that he was granting them rights to use his family's songs with the approval of the Centre and selected elders. Others, speaking in general of the rights to arrange or transfer dance performances (or defending their own relative's acts of doing so), suggest that the choice of what to display is always the chiefs.34 Drawing on the traditional role of formal exchange, one person argued that giving the privilege away is acceptable "if it's paid for [and] witnessed by our people." As the chief had arranged to have the AIDT pay royalties from their performances to U'mista, one could say that it had been paid for. Likewise, according to his son, a "proper ceremony" was held and documented on video, providing a lasting public record of the transaction. Furthermore, the chief had the power of traditional authority with him, because "there were_a couple of our elders here that said he could do it, and he followed the instructions of his elders and, you know, who better to go to, I mean they're the final stamp of approval." This individual also justified the transfer in the language of temporary rights, that "its being loaned to them," and that ultimately, both the masks provided and the rights to perform would be "put back to where it belongs."35 For some, the identity of the AIDT members and the businesslike context of the exchange directly violated the ritual nature of the Hamat'sa and therefore assaulted its sacredness. For others, however, the fact that these were "professional" performers releases them from the ceremonial requirements of initiation and payment to witnesses. As the granting chief himself states: no one was initiated, that's the misunderstanding that a lot of people have. We didn't initiate these guys, they were just more like actors. They didn't get any names... so the meaning of the dances to them and to their audience wouldn't have the same meaning to us. 18 And they were, after all— in the words of a young man who had assisted in teaching the group songs— "other natives." In other words, it is precisely their identity as disinterested (if admiring and respectful) outsiders (and not too far outside) that grants the troupe the freedom to present the Hamat'sa in a non-ritual context; only true actors could perform the dance in a theater. In this case, the performance is justified in the name of educating the public about a uniquely Kwakwaka'wakw culture in a program otherwise dominated by more popularly known dances from the Plains. "They were just trying to teach people... teaching people about us.... More people know more about the Cree than they do about, like, about our tribe." In fact, the chief in question identifies his main critics as a small faction of people who refuse any recording or photographing of songs or dances, and do not share his conviction that such ethnographic records are invaluable resources. Numerous people voiced the opinion that as long as performers respect and honor the traditions, it is acceptable— and perhaps even beneficial— that they enact them for outsiders. That is, as one young dancer said, "as long as they don't try and make up culture and make up who we are and make us look bad." Transforming Theory Turner suggests that theatrical performances are the best way to encourage transcultural communication and global understanding because they offer direct, shared, public experience (1982:19). But because "theater comes into existence when a separation occurs between spectators and performance," (Schechner 1988:126), this process opens a discursive space in which control over representation is taken out of the hands of local community members and put into those of professional "culture brokers" (see Kurin 1997). The aestheticized display of any cultural form, be it an object or legend or dance, always entails decontextualization, generalization, and de-politicization (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998:65, 76). This is specifically endemic to contemporary, multicultural folklife festivals and performances, where individual identities can get overshadowed in the celebration of diversity (ibid:77). What does this suggest about how Canadian Kwakwaka 'wakw concerned with the transformation of their most valued ritual privilege might think and say about the "American Indian Dance Theater" controlling the Hamat'sa's performative representation all over the world? In fact, one woman precisely situates this issue within a broader post-colonial framework: "Its just really wrong. Its really misusing, disrespectful, I can't even— I get so upset when I think about it. Its really disrespectful. Abusing it. And that's one right that the whiteman can't take from us." It appears that the AIDT issue became an occasion for families to enact specific rivalries and contests for interpretation as well as control of cultural capital. Although not a unique debate, the issue of whether the Hamat'sa belongs to individuals or to the Nation addresses the problem of intellectual property and the scale of group identity more broadly. On the Northwest Coast, where dances and their specific variations are owned by particular individuals and families, the use of such practices as emblematic of First Nations as a whole becomes especially problematic. What is being 19 negotiated here is the (traditional) rights of individuals to alienate their property, and the (emergent) rights of members of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation to determine how their culture is going to be globally represented. Complicate this with the fact that much property on the Northwest Coast is ephemeral, consisting of rights to use masks, names, songs, and stories which— despite limited circulation- remain under the legal and performative purview of the individual or lineage. Weiner (1992) calls such forms of property "inalienable possessions," and suggests that they foster the cultural, ideological, and cosmological stability of people over time, coming in fact to symbolize links to an ancestral origin. That both supporters and critics of this chiefs "gift" appeal to tradition is no surprise, as the concept confers the authority of the past to legitimate the present and suggests consistency whereas giving implies loss. In fact, Boas recorded such rhetorical practice 100 years ago, codifying appeals to tradition as "traditional" for the Kwakwaka'wakw: "Another feature of formal speeches is the constant claim that the speech and actions are nothing newly invented, that it goes back to the time 'when light came into our world' and that the right and duty to use these forms was inherited from their fathers, grandfathers, and remote ancestors" (1966:353).36 Yet some of the contradictions and ambiguity in the language of justification or criticism is found within individual discourse as well as between individuals. For example, one chief from Ft. Rupert, when asked about the origins of the Hamat'sa in Kwakwaka'wakw territory, proclaimed "it has always been amongst us. Yep, since time began, it has always been there." When describing the position of the Kwag'iulth as the highest ranking village (thus determining the order in which dances are presented at public functions), he claimed "This rule was made ten thousand years ago.. . .We're not talking about rights here, I'm just telling you, this is the law.... This law has never changed."37 He also described numerous potlatch practices of recent origin with no apparent judgment. The same man at one point said it is ultimately up to the chief to decide how to handle his rights, yet 30 seconds later added "I think it's wrong to give a guy permission to do the Hamat'sa."38 These points are contradictory only to the extent that tradition is held to be based on objective and authenticated historical truth. This example suggests that individuals appeal to tradition to understand, explain and manage contemporary practices and meanings. Tradition becomes not an end onto itself or the object(s) of cultural continuity; instead, it emerges as a critical value applied to negotiations of identity and control over cultural representation, both on the reserve and across the planet. ENGENDERING TRADITION The challenge is, finally, to ourselves as Native women caught within the burdens and contradictions of colonial history. We are being asked to confront some of our own traditions at a time when there seems to be a great need for a recall of traditions to help us retain our identities as Aboriginal people. But there is no choice— as women we must be circumspect in our recall of tradition. We must ask ourselves whether and to what extent tradition is liberating us as women.. . . [Clulture is not immutable, and tradition cannot be expected to be always of value or relevant in our times. As Native women, we are faced with very difficult and painful choices, but, nonetheless, we are challenged to change, create, and embrace "traditions" consistent with contemporary and international human rights standards. (LaRocque 1996:14) 20 The Shackles of Tradition Near the end of his life, Franz Boas wrote that his entire career and "whole outlook upon social life was determined by the question: how can we recognize the shackles that tradition has laid upon us?" (in Stocking 1974:42). In one of the seminal collections of early feminist ethnography, Alice Kehoe (1983:53) discusses the way in which the rigid framework of classic anthropological theory and method have eclipsed, dismissed, and devalued the role that women- play(ed) in indigenous societies. This is one possible interpretation of Boas' claim, one that foregrounds the normative function of tradition as ideology, structuring and limiting the realm of intellectual possibilities. But in as much as tradition also acts as hegemony, it delimits the realm of practical (or at least socially and culturally appropriate), behavioral possibilities as well. It is in this second sense that feminist scholars have attempted to break the patriarchal shackles of Western tradition in reclaiming a positively valued past in order to engender an equitable future. The revolutionary nature of cultural innovation always begins with isolating and objectifying outmoded traditions of domination, for, as Boas continued, "when we recognize them, we are also able to break them" (Stocking 1974:24). Anthropology's engagement with feminism over the past 30 years has indeed revised the way that the discipline approaches dynamics of gender in social, political and cultural contexts.39 The earliest ethnographic treatments of women were confined largely to descriptions of domestic activity and socialization. By the 1960s, politically minded scholars focused on reconstructing and proving the existence of positively valued female roles in native societies to fuel the growing Women's Movement and challenges to Western patriarchy. This literature, tied as it is to an advocacy agenda, tends to homogenize and idealize the position of women in "pre-contact" societies, and to emphasize the destructive effect of domination by European values and social prescriptions (for contemporary examples of this trend, see Brock 1989 and Billson 1995).40 The emphasis here is often on describing and validating women's vital role as "keepers of the culture" (Billson 1995), as maintainers of "cultural traditions" (Shoemaker 1995:2) and "tribal identity" (Bastien 1996:127).41 Some recent studies have addressed the way in which indigenous women are actively and strategically constituting themselves as such in the context of land and equity claims and the requirements of traditional knowledge needed to meet Western standards of "nationhood" (see Peters 1998:675, 679 for the Canadian context; Lilley 1989:85, 95 for an Australian example). Such work emphasizes that women consciously, intentionally and selectively draw on tradition to forge new political and cultural roles, responsibilities, and values for themselves. Beginning in the 1970s and 80s, there was — in addition to continuing focus on women's "roles" in pre-colonized societies— a more interpretive analysis of the cultural "meanings" that sex and gender reflect and constitute (see Rosaldo and Lamphere 1974; Reiter 1975; Ortner and Whitehead 1981). Many such studies relied on more structural, functional and hermeneutic 21 methods to explore the underlying logic of gender roles within larger cultural systems of power and prestige. A fundamental assumption of such work was that "male" and "female" described a universal cultural binary system, and that gender differentiation was useful as a primary model for other social distinctions. Ortner (1996:143) summarizes this logic: "gender is itself centrally a prestige system— a system of discourses and practices that constructs male and female not only in terms of differential roles and meanings but also in terms of differential value, differential 'prestige.'" Alexander (1994) draws on Lacanian psychoanalysis to explain how language structures infants' subjectivities as gendered, and suggests how this primary psychological identity — itself fundamentally antagonistic because dualistically constituted — provides the semiotic foundation for other social tensions, such as class. If society is structured according to, and for, dominant male prestige, then that which is seen as outside of society— the "other"— is often feminized and represented as submissive.42 In the contemporary context of post-colonial cultural revitalization and presentations of a unified, national culture, many political distinctions become gendered in public discourse as local communities renegotiate roles and privileges: "In this context of uncertainty regarding rights and responsibilities over traditional knowledge other, often external, notions about gender-based rights and responsibilities have become dominant" (Jacobs 1989:89). Thus gender becomes the signified and the signifier of other social and political distinctions. Part of the tension in feminist anthropology surrounds the debate between advocacy and empowerment-minded "cultural feminists" (those most likely to describe cultures where women are/were positively valued) and deconstruction and interpretation-minded "post-structuralists" (those with the propensity to see gender itself as a mere discursive formation worthy of dissolution). Alcoff (1994) discusses this tension in terms of the relative ways in which each faction approaches "woman" as subject of both analysis and social agency. Cultural feminists, she argues, perpetuate the essentialization of "femaleness" while redefining and reclaiming it for contemporary activism; post-structuralists, on the other hand, attack the autonomous "subject" in the first place, and deny any intentionally to social players whose identities are discursively determined. A way out of this bind is to approach gender as both discursively jDonstructedan^ practiced, both historical constituted and individually embodied and experienced. Alcoff approaches women as social subjects in terms of their "positionality," their conscious manipulation of social and cultural values (including those attached to gender) in negotiating the politics of identity. "This concept of woman as positionality shows how women use their positional perspective as a place from which values are interpreted and constructed rather than as a locus of an already determined set of values" (Alcoff 1994:117). In other words, "woman" emerges in moments of social discourse and political action from sets of received cultural values, and as it does, it remakes those values. This is essentially the same, point argued above for tradition, that people intentionally invoke and (re)construct the past based on present cultural and political needs. Sherry Ortner (1996) articulates a viable feminist anthropology based on these insights, incorporating them into a larger framework of "practice" theory. Her term "making gender" refers to gender as both a (top-down, socially determined, hermeneutically deconstructable) cultural construct and discursive formation, and a (bottom-up, intentionally negotiated, ethnographically describable) set of flexible cultural meanings available to social agents. Gender (like tradition) emerges in moments of social practice as they continually embody and (re)construct culture. This avoids the traps of both social/structural/ideological determinism and a reliance on voluntary, autonomous agents. In order to characterize the (never entirely) restrictive nature of gender values for social players, and to further mediate idealist and materialist determinisms, Ortner invokes the concept of hegemony (1996:145). Drawing on Williams' use of Gramsci (see Williams 1994:595), she suggests how the concept of hegemony provides for the internalized, ordering, and restrictive principles of culture/ideology to articulate with (not determine) the consciously creative, disordering, and resistant forces of social agency. Williams (ibid:600) specifically addresses tradition as the most powerful form of hegemony, not because it is an historically inert superstructure, but precisely because it is practiced, enacted, and therefore constitutive of society. But as such, it is also selective and intentional, and therefore open to manipulation in counterhegemonic "formations," "conscious movements and tendencies (literary, artistic, philosophical or scientific),... modes of specialized practice" (ibid:603). Ortner describes such specialized practice as "serious games" (1996:12), strategic constructions of identity within— and often in opposition to— dominant social relations of value and power, suggesting that negotiations of gender can be approached as one such "game."43 Williams (1994:600) describes how approaching the "finite but significant openness of many works of art, as signifying forms making possible but also requiring persistent and variable signifying responses," allows us to better articulate the ways in which people negotiate oppositional identities by selectively employing the past in current cultural representations. Emberly (1993) suggests approaching First Nations women writers as "subjects in resistance" (xviii), negotiating their cultural (gender) identity within and against hegemonic discourses of (gendered) social differences both imposed and internalized (14). In focusing on written texts as "cultural productions," she locates the work of art as the site of ideological struggle, and suggests how the politics of identity articulate with the politics of representation, the strategic counterhegemonic mobilization of such texts/formations/performances (19). Lilley (1989:87) specifically discusses the strategic ways in which Aboriginal women selectively objectify and idealize certain aspects of their cultural past, then display those traditions through "theatrical deployment" during land claims hearings. All of these scholars focus on cultural productions, performances and representations as discursive formations or signifying practices whereby indigenous women are strategically negotiating their past and present, their intentionality and ideology, their individual and national identities. For it is: in the incorporation of the actively residual— by reinterpretation, dilution, projection, discriminating inclusion and exclusion— that the work of the selective tradition is especially evident.... In the subsequent default of a particular phase of dominant culture there is then a reaching back to those meanings and values which were created in actual societies and actual situations in the past, and which still seem to have significance because they represent areas of 23 human experience, aspiration, and achievement which the dominant culture neglects, undervalues, opposes, represses, or even cannot recognize. (Williams 1994:606) Engendering the Hamat'sa In the course of interviews exploring the contemporary representational contexts and meaning of the Hamat'sa, numerous people mentioned specific women who claim and/or perform the Hamat'sa privilege today. I have identified at least 13 women who are associated in some way with the Hamat'sa, although most people said there are very few and any given person only named a couple. There are various explanations for why and how these women came to claim it: two are said to have inherited specific family privileges which entail female dancers; one because she was an only child; at least two because they asked their chiefly fathers for it; most because either there were no male children or those men in position to inherit it refused or were somehow not perceived to be worthy. Likewise, there is variation in its performative display: some acquired the privilege initially through formal, performative initiation while others received names alone; some women dance with other tame Hamat'sas at the conclusion of all new initiations during potlatches; some will only perform when their family hosts a potlatch and they are required to display unique privileges; some never dance it, by choice or by family restriction; some occasionally dance it for tourists or in other cultural productions. Opinion in the communities is fiercely divided as to the details of both chiefly and women's rights and responsibilities. Again, both critics and supporters invoke and debate traditional precedents to condemn or legitimate the practice. Again, it is possible to identify seemingly contradictory moments of individual and community discourse. To complicate the matter, opinion is not divided along gender lines (many women were the most vocal critics) or along age lines (both young and old people debate the relative merits). In this section I will approach the contemporary Hamat'sa as a discursive formation or signifying practice {a la Williams), a cultural production (a la Emberly), a serious game {a la Ortner); in other words, as an intentional performance, engaged in dialogues with the past and with anthropological reifications, that is embedded in — and negotiates- the articulation of the politics of identity and the politics of representation. The political contexts in which these dialogues occur are multiple: local contestations for rights and appropriateness; more global constructions of identity at the village and national level; places where unique Kwakwaka'wakw values intersect with those of Western modernity and feminism; and the superimposition of gender and other forms of differentiating discourse. As tradition is constantly implicated in the negotiation of women's performance rights, a brief sketch of relevant history is in order. Boas states clearly that the 19th century Kwakwaka'wakw demonstrated patterns of inheritance and clan affiliation which fused (southern coast) patrilineal descent with (northern coast) matrilineality (see Boas 1897: 334-9; 1966:49). Bilaterally reckoned kinship, along with a mixture of endogamy and exogamy, provided a fluid social organization that enabled high ranking names and prerogatives to be kept in the family by ensuring inheritance from both sides. Both men and women married up in rank. There was a tendency toward primogeniture regardless of gender, yet 24 based on lack of consistent reports on this, Boas (1966:52) suggests that such flexibility was a recent development. It seems that even 100 years ago, people were debating the merits of handing certain chiefly rights and responsibilities to women, and all such decisions were made in the context of intervillage rivalry. Goldman (1975:89) states definitively that "The hamatsa [sic] is always male," and Boas (1966:52) does at one point mention that women were not to receive hereditary status in the winter ceremonial. Yet earlier, Boas described and illustrated a Koskimo woman being initiated as a Hamat'sa dancer by her chiefly brother with no hint of controversy (1897:591-5). One chief recently suggested that it was in fact the 19th century population decline that required women to be given privileges which would have otherwise gone to men. In any case, people generally recognize that women could hold ceremonial names, songs, and dances in trust until they could be transferred to an appropriate male heir. Ortner (1996: chapter 4) discusses the link of gender values to rank or prestige systems, and demonstrates how women are implicated in the hegemonies of hereditary privilege. She suggests that in increasingly stratified societies, where marriage exchange replaces the value of kinship as a means to prestige, women associated with dowries may be increasingly implicated in the maintenance of male ranking systems. Certainly in Kwakwaka'wakw society, by the late 19th century, population decline, new avenues to wealth, and unprecedented inter-village amalgamation gave rise to more elaborated rivalry in the ranking system, and families scrambled to assert claims to ancestral names and privileges. As potlatching became a new means to gain status, women (both as wives and daughters) may have been increasingly "used" to increase lineage status.44 With this increase in economic value may have come a transformation in the gendering of ceremonial life. With the advent of the Hamat'sa as the highest ranked performance and secret society, the displaced Hamshamt'sas became devalued and marked as a woman's dance (Boas 1897:463).45 By the 1930s, the prohibition of the potlatch had taken a toll on the strictly hereditary ranking system as well as the performance of ceremonial privileges, the Depression had decreased the influx of expendable wealth, and the knowledge associated with lineage histories and genealogies had become compromised. With the release from the strict ranking system of individuals, families and villages, and with increasing accommodation to Western economic and social values (through religious conversion, residential schooling, and participation in the market economy), there may have been increasing flexibility for women to reposition themselves through the articulation of Euro-Canadian and Kwakwaka'wakw cultural values. Women are spoken of today as arbiters of tradition, as "keepers of the culture." Many people commented that it was women who were largely responsible for reviving singing and dancing during the 1950s and 60s; here the touristic nature of the performances may have released strict gender restrictions on performer identity.46 Likewise, women are routinely held to coordinate potlatches behind the scenes. Speaking more ideologically, many ascribe to women moral superiority in Kwakwaka'wakw culture. One man suggested that "women hold a lot of the brunt of the culture [because] the dowry gets passed through the woman." One man described the garish displays of 25 speeches and "showing off as "beneath a woman's dignity. She's held in high regard, and it's for her that we are doing it." He also suggested that, "being matriarchal, as you know, the female has the highest standing." Another described women as "legend makers," suggesting that all men's activity is ultimately for them, and that their unique power as women grants them "control of the bighouse," (i.e. the potlatch). One woman called females the "chief makers," claiming for them an "even higher role" than mere Hamat'sa dancers. Over the course of the last century, other dances have undergone gender reversal, or at least a loosening of strict gender-specific requirements. People point out that women are doing many dances, (including the Tuxw'id, Madam, 'Ma'mak'a, and Xisiwe') that used to belong to men, and that men perform some dances previously held by women (including the Wa'a'a [or Paxlax] and in the case of one family, the Ladies Professional Dance). One man described these changes as simply "a progression. . . the evolution of our culture," yet acknowledged the controversy surrounding women Hamat'sas. It may be because the Hamat'sa has been represented as so sacred, important, and central to Kwakwaka'wakw culture that control over its representation is taken much more seriously than other dances. In many ways, the Hamat'sa has always been critically entangled in hegemonic processes. Kobrinsky (1975) and Wolf (1999) suggest that claims to and contests over rights to the Hamat'sa were central to chiefly mobilization of rank and prestige in the mid to late 19th century. The seriousness of the performance demanded perfection from the dancers; reports of dancers being killed for errors are common. By .the turn of the century, the "Age of Ethnography" provided opportunities for people like George Hunt to negotiate their own standing through selective codification and performance in anthropological texts, fairs and films. During the transitional period of the 1950s and 60s, people altered the content and public interpretation of the Hamat'sa, and loosened strict requirements of performer identity (to include more women and non-natives);47 all such decisions were vigorously debated and contested locally. Hamat'sa songs have also always been a vehicle for subtle regulations and criticisms of inappropriate behavior. Singers will write lyrics into songs challenging rival chiefs' claims, signaling breaches in protocol, and humiliating dancers or members of the audience (see Boas 1897:594).48 If women are appropriating (intentionally or not) the symbolic mechanism whereby male power was partially maintained in Kwakwaka'wakw society, it is no surprise that critics of this action invoke tradition to challenge their claims.49 The Hegemony of Tradition The harshest opponents deny the existence of anything like a female Hamat'sa. One man initially insisted "There's no such thing as women Hamat'sas!" and then described the current practice as further evidence of cultural disintegration: [I]f they want their own identity, then why don't they go and find their own identity,. . . but leave our Hamat'sas alone. Leave us alone. Because when they come and start doing that, we are just becoming Canadians, we are becoming North Americans, we are becoming Europeans. Very confused. We've already got our laws set down for us, so there will be no more confusion. And I 26 am seeing it be broken apart. The circle is broken. No, its wrong.. . . We're making a mockery out of it when we're trying to gather up as much as we can about the old ways and live like that again. Al l of a sudden, the women don't want that. This individual concluded the interview by emphasizing that his intention is not to be prejudiced, but "to make sure our culture is saved." Another, after acknowledging some early precedents and that some of the contemporary female Hamat'sas are his relatives, declared: But you know, our ancestors had a really strict law, and for sure, it was a man's role, and that, you know, if we're going to start practicing our culture we need to get back to as close as what we can. And . . . you see a lot of women doing male dances now and, you know, there's a lot of good ladies dances out there. And I just think that, that's why our system is falling apart, 'cause we accept too much and we change too much with the times, and I think that's why our system and our society, as a people, is really kind of losing it, or being washed out. Numerous people tell stories of a female Hamat'sa from Kingcome Inlet earlier in this century, and many claim that she was the only one they ever heard of. Apparently, a chief there had no sons or nephews and decided to give his Hamat'sa to his infant daughter.50 He consulted extensively with other chiefs, and they finally agreed to the transfer. She was known to have reluctantly crossed the dance floor during the Hamat'sa performance at a potlatch, but never to be fully initiated or taught songs and movements, nor to have ever performed it later in life. One woman suggested "its so wrong to do that... that the Musgimux chiefs had to have meeting after meeting before they allowed the biggest chief of all to have his daughter initiated. That only tells you one thing, that it just wasn't accepted. Now they're throwing in girls all the time." She seems to suggest that this recent innovation set the precedent for today's decisions. Even if people acknowledge that women were often given rights to hold in trust for a younger male, as some suggest for this case, they insist that she would never perform the Hamat'sa.51 One man described this individual as like a little kid learning how to walk. . . . That's not a Hamat'sa. It wasn't even anything like a Hamat'sa. You know what I mean. And that's the only thing, the only time, the only one they say might have been a Hamat'sa but wasn't a Hamat'sa. Whatever that dance was. You know. And you just went from A to B, you didn't even go around the circle, didn't go around the corners, didn't even go around the bighouse. You just went from the front door, in. And that was it, through the back. And whatever that was, [the 93 year old elder that told him of this woman] doesn't even know if that was a Hamat'sa or what the hell that was, they did. 'Cause all she did was go like this [waved hands in air] all the way, till she got to the other end. Never said "Hap." And that's very, very important when you're a Hamat'sa, that means "eat." He later suggested that women were kept from dancing in Hamat'sa masks because it put them in a sexually compromising position vis-a-vis male audience members and participants, i.e. for bio-logical reasons.52 In any case, there is the sense that it was performance of the Hamat'sa that legitimized claim to the rights, and if a woman merely held the name, she was not an authentic Hamat'sa. Hence, another man identified it as "a special dance, not a real Hamat'sa dance." Thus, even if such women did exist, "their role wasn't as prestigious as the man's full-fledged Hamat'sa, I could almost guarantee that." It is interesting to note that in the case of women initiates, 27 performance (in a potlatch) validates claims to authenticity, while in the previous case of touristic productions, performance negated ritual effectiveness and cultural seriousness. A few people suggest that the women who now claim Hamat'sas were given the privilege because they asked for it directly, not because they were in hereditary position to receive it (a suggestion that the women themselves deny). One woman claimed such a process for a recent initiate, and stated that it is acceptable only if there are no male heirs, which there were in this case.53 Numerous people voiced the opinion that chiefs have no traditional right to bestow the Hamat'sa on their daughters simply because they love them deeply: "I think with the changing times, some people love and cherish their children so much that even, even a young lady might be initiated now, and with the changing times, I guess, that's acceptable now." Others suggested that the women requesting the dance manipulated their families and pleaded to "confuse the chief in order to get that dance."54 Along similar (although less conspiratorial) lines, another man explained the current practice as perhaps validated by women elders, who may have unwittingly altered traditional teachings over the years.55 One of the most outstanding features of the criticism of female Hamat'sas is the marking of such women as deviants, as outsiders, as "others" of one sort or another. One man identified it as "just a matter of the Western world coming into our world. Its a matter of Caucasian thinking people who are all urbanites. I mean, check it out, every one of them are urbanites... that wanted to become Hamat'sas." He also suggested that the two worlds are irreconcilable: "One moment, they are totally women's liberation, next moment they're as traditional as can be." Another likewise invoked the influence of feminism, suggesting that woman, are supposed to be "servants for the Hamat'sa, they serve us our food. I mean, nowadays, they'll say 'Yeah, right. Sexism' and that kind of stuff." One man suggested and another claimed outright that "all the women Hamat'sas are dykes." In any case, there is the sense that contemporary female Hamat'sas mark the local infusion of modernity, westernization, and feminism, resulting in changes to or "inventions" of tradition. These are all ways of semiotically marking these women as inauthentic participants in their traditional culture, and articulating gender with other categories of difference.56 Given the various practices recorded in both oral histories and anthropological texts, and the variety of current women's claims to the Hamat'sa, criticism of the practice draws selectively on the past (as well as present) while arguing a strong case for tradit;on and the importance of its return. For some opposed to the practice, it indicates a dangerous acceptance of innovation, especially given current efforts to revitalize cultural integrity, economic stability and political potency. "First we have to establish and live the way that was set down for us first, and then maybe we can make some changes after it becomes fluent. First, we gotta become fluent, first we gotta backtrack and discover who we are. And then we can proceed ahead with caution. And don't be naive and accept everything the western world offers." Another man explains that he would never pass his Hamat'sa onto his daughters despite the fact that he has no sons: "I'm a big believer in tradition myself, so. I think that if we start changing too many of the rules, we won't have any rule to follow." As if directly 28 quoting from chiefs a century ago (see Boas 1897:592; fn #36 above), one man argued that there were no traditional women Hamat'sas "according to legend! According to legend. Now if they got another legend to go with the woman Hamat'sa, then bring it on, I want to see it." There are those in the communities willing to take up his challenge. At least two of the women who dance with other Hamat'sas claim specific family privileges which assert that the cannibalistic dancer be a woman, and (at least) some relatives can trace the legitimizing legends back in time.57 Some claim that these are not true Hamat'sas, but the fact that they dance with other Hamat'sas negates this in people's minds, and the presence of validating legends sets them apart from the other women. Others mention precedents "in the early days" at various villages. In fact, it is interesting to note that some people point to the case of the early 20th century women from Kingcome as a traditional precedent for the contemporary practice, suggesting that the historical boundary of "tradition" is itself fluid and open to negotiation. People disagree about how far back a practice must go before qualifying as a tradition.58 There is some consensus that if a chief had no male heirs, he could "put" a Hamat'sa on his daughter in order to keep it in that family, and many feel there is no shame or violation in doing so. One older woman described the case of her grandmother who was selected by the village chiefs to inherit her father's role when he died as he had no sons. This speaks to the right of chiefs (or even communities in some cases) to decide the fate of their privileges, and people point to such practices to validate the giving of Hamat'sas to women today, regardless of the individual justification. For many people, the most important criteria in selecting candidates to receive the Hamat'sa are personal devotion, worth, and understanding. Two of the recently initiated women were selected by their families, despite the presence of possible male recipients, because of their deep interest and participation in the meaning of the dance; for both of them, being a Hamat'sa is about facing one's fears, confronting life's (and the community's) hostilities, and gaining self-understanding. One suggests that in the old days, little children were never initiated as families waited to see which sibling would be worthy of inheriting and carrying the privilege. She said today people.might ...... initiate kids because they're cute when dancing, but you would never see a kid dancing in "traditional ceremonies." One man favored returning to the importance of deep understanding and worthiness, and mentioned a chief who is interested in getting "all the Hamat'sa together, and present[ing] what the role of that society is, and what they should be doing, and maybe that they need to be purified and practice those sort of traditional things." It is interesting to note that this chief gave his daughter a Hamat'sa. In fact, he is active in public presentations as well as potlatches, and once made a point about introducing the Hamat'sa at a major exhibition of masks by stating that traditionally it was "bestowed on the first born son or whoever the chief loved very much."59 In shifting criteria for initiation away from primogeniture or rigidly gendered heredity, there is a re-evaluation of tradition at the same time as people argue for the importance of cultural literacy over genealogy, i.e. of "consent" over "descent." 29 For such people, tradition is not meant to be a rigid adherence to the past, a past they hold to be selectively represented by certain individuals or families eager to consolidate representational authority. One woman suggests that contemporary Kwakwaka'wakw need to actively negotiate positive cultural values based on both the recorded past and the necessities of the present. For an example she mentions the role of chiefs, whose authority today floats between hereditary designation and service to communities. At least two or three of the women who have received the dance are openly lesbian, and their desire to take on the persona of the Hamat'sa may relate precisely to their perception of it as a traditional male prerogative, and one with which they may be fashioning their own gender identity at the intersection of traditional Kwakwaka'wakw cultural values and a Western feminist sensibility.60 An older woman invokes modern political changes to explain and justify contemporary female Hamat'sas: "Human rights say females are equal now (laughs). Did you hear that on the news? It's on females who should get paid equally as males for their jobs, they got the same kind of job that get paid equally, and this will be retroactive to 1985. So this is applied to Hamat'sa (laughs)." When one young woman desires to bring back initiatory isolation in the woods as part of reviving the personal meaning, symbolism, and ritualistic understanding of the Hamat'sa, she says some of the younger dancers "want to change a lot of things and make it more traditional." So we can't simply assume that tradition is being used to validate conservative tendencies. While in some cases it bolsters claims to a reified and authenticated culture, it is also used to signify outmoded and no-longer-appropriate restrictions on behavior. Because representations of the past are selective, based partly on existing knowledge and memory, partly on extant ethnographic texts, and partly on contemporary constructions and reconstructions, authenticity can not be an end unto itself. It is a critical value applied to other, more salient projects. A Tradition of Resistance The debates over gender are complex and opinions divide along at least two axes, as they did in the case of the American Indian Dance Theater. One issue is whether such transfers were done in the past, and whether the chief has individual rights to pass on privileges to whomever he sees fit. As before, there is contradiction within individual discourse, as one man— totally opposed to women holding the Hamat'sa— demands that "it goes by who that chief thinks deserves it."61 The second issue is whether or not non- Kwakwaka'wakw or women should be performing the Hamat'sa at all. Some who see traditional precedents also think it is wrong: one man acknowledged that "it's always been there," yet believes women shouldn't dance as Hamat'sas. Others recognize such practices as innovative but have no problem with them. One vocal opponent of the practice, a talented Hamat'sa dancer himself, also helped prepare his female relatives for their own initiation. This highlights the fact that when directly questioned, people may invoke ideologically driven answers, normative "traditions" that are open to negotiations in everyday practice. 30 It also underscores the different meanings of the term "rights" mentioned above. One issue is that of ownership, the other that of acceptability or properness. The first has more political and economic ramifications, the second moral or cultural (if I may appeal to such a crude heuristic distinction). Heath (1994:90) discusses this distinction in terms of "appropriation" and "appropriateness," and suggests that negotiations of cultural protocol and traditional performative rights— especially those linked to gendered roles and practices— become the sites for contests of ownership and control: The struggle over the meaning of dance has to do with shifting notion of appropriateness, grounded in relations of power. It takes place in a web of interconnected performances in which notions of appropriateness become a contestable cultural resource... . When defined as inappropriate, the women's dances [in urban Senegal] are subject to restriction and control. Defined as valued or appropriate activity, they may become alternatively a site of resistance. Here, negotiations of cultural tradition are very much implicated in larger political contexts. The performance of the Hamat'sa by women threatens some with images of cultural dissolution, images all the more dangerous in the climate of land claims. Lilley (1989:92) describes the importance of a strong rhetoric of cultural integrity and consensus to legitimize Australian treaty processes: "the kind of traditional past that they could marshal in defense of their collective interests was simply too diverse to encode their specific claim." Given the diversity of individual, family, and village variation in specific privilege and performative tradition, the slippage indicated by local contests over the past take on additional weight when the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation presents its generalized culture, or even more localized Nations argue their specific land claims.62 The rights (of ownership) of individuals to alienate their cultural property and the rights (or worthiness) of others to perform it are negotiated for both local and national scales of identity. Given these two scales, it is vital to distinguish between two levels of dialogue here. One is internal to Kwakwaka'wakw communities, and consists largely of negotiations over rights and responsibilities surrounding the representation of traditional culture. The late 20th century marks a shift in collective identification, and one reason for the extensive local conflict is precisely the degree to which previously disparate communities are now participating in collective expressions; various traditions are intersecting and people are arguing over whose should be privileged. Ortner (1996:166) suggests that it is common for societies in the process of state formation, or at least increasing political consolidation, to selectively draw on the past, reifying some practices while challenging others, because "some aspects of religion and of other 'traditional' forms of regulating succession and renewing legitimacy involve relatively constraining ways of constructing power." With the advent of modernization and the colonial imposition of a political model of "the nation" comes standardization of practices and reevaluation of authority. One woman characterizes this process as "almost like homogenization [in which] a particular group appropriates the dances of another group, and it all becomes this confused mess." Another directly relates the shifting meanings of the Hamat'sa to larger social and political changes: 31 Now it's being defined a little, redefined, and probably watered down a little. It has its place in our society still, but I think it's really losing its— much like the hereditary chiefs. We don't know where their power comes from, 'cause we have this understanding what elected officials are. We know they are not elected, but... there's a respect that's lost, an understanding that's lost, and people are really searching to find these things out because it is hard to find, it is hard to find straight answers. There are a few people who are the experts, so to speak, and they're changing and their perspective is changing. So the question of whose rights, whose privileges, whose traditions, and whose choices are involved in legitimizing individual women to become Hamat'sas becomes paramount. In fact, it may be precisely these contests for control that make some women seize their position as Hamat'sas and others refuse to perform; "when dancers find that those in power have identified their performances as inappropriate, they may defiantly embrace their status as Other and proceed to dance despite disapproval" (Heath 1994:90). On the other hand, the Kwakwaka'wakw are recovering from the legacy of colonialism, and local contest for representational authority may be indicative of larger political claims for control over self-determination, resource management, and cultural property. The Heath quote could just as easily characterize the history of resistance to potlatch prohibition (nationally) as control over women dancing (locally). The fact that this specific issue revolves around the gender of the Hamat'sa may suggest that the larger issue of cultural representation and the politics of identity has become gendered as well. As Alexander (1994:279) and Fiske (1996) have argued, the gendered meanings superimposed on sexual identities provide the semiotic mechanism by which sexual symbolization of difference is projected onto political discourse. If hegemonic representations are often gendered, so too are resistance efforts. "In struggle with the state Native peoples have produced alternative subject-positions" based on strategically selected ethnic or cultural formations (Emberly 1993:18-9). And if the Hamat'sa is one such formation, it becomes clear why local control has ramifications for global control. One man worries that community leaders who give Hamat'sa privileges to their daughters and non- Kwakwaka'wakw (or those who take their wives' last names) - who give up their individual rights as they see fit — didn't "go through the whole nation." He continues: that's why I'm really worried about this treaty thing. 'Cause you got four idiots who really believe they can go and negotiate with Jean Cretien and. .. we don't have a chance against these slick people. And we've got our four slick people trying to go there and, you know what I mean. And I don't think so. I think we can get ready for it, but many hands make light work. The more of us go together, hand in hand, they won't be able to break through, you know what I mean. . . . Its the same thing as giving our masks away without asking. Something as important as a Hamat'sa. These men, weak for being manipulated by local women, are feminized in relation to national political negotiations. Kwakwaka'wakw women may be struggling to define their own identity against what they perceive to be the hegemony of tradition, yet Kwakwaka'wakw politicians are invoking tradition to fight against the hegemony of colonialism. Just as the Hamat'sa played a central role in 19th century local contests for rank and privilege as well as in the national rhetoric of 32 potlatch prohibition and assimilation, so too is it deeply entangled in contemporary politics of identity and representation, locally, nationally, and internationally. CONCLUSION: A COMPLEX CANNIBAL [RJeference to tradition is a metaphor for identity. This means it encompasses and illustrates a past, a present and a future. It is not only the memory of the past frozen in time that reemerges; it is also a reference necessary for elaborating a version of the contemporary world, which is the "space" where traditional and modern social life occur side by side. Tradition is primarily a political instrument for regulating both internal and external relations. (Mauze 1997:12) Turner (1982:44) suggests that societies in the process of transforming from one historical or political phase of development to another undergo a period of liminality in which the collective symbols of identity are negotiated while the social structure is temporarily loosened. It may be possible to view the period from 1922 (if not a century earlier) to roughly present day as such a transitional period for the Kwakwaka'wakw, a moment they entered with an already transforming potlatch and emerge from with a rejuvenated one. In the meantime, communities have had to contend with population decline, residential schooling, partial conversion to Christianity, selective assimilation into a capitalist economy, loss of ceremonial regalia and knowledge, and adoption of Western legal and governmental models with which to rebuilt a sense of strong cultural and political viability. Turner (ibid:47) posits that during such moments, repeated experiments and innovations in effect become new traditions, novel precedents setting the foundation on which societies can continue to build a sense of communitas. Similarly, Handler and Linnekin (1984:280) suggest that the process of cultural "invention" is merely the selection and recontextualization of certain practices from the past, which become specifically marked as "traditional" in present mobilizations of cultural identity and, I would add, political rhetoric. Thomas (1992:214-5) calls such a process "reactive objectification" and argues that it is both diacritical and oppositional; in other words, the reification of (particularized) specific practices makes them emblematic of a (totalized) general scale of identity defined against larger transnational groups. Anthropology is implicated in this process to the extent that it codifies such emblematic practices, describes the general traits characterizing unique social identities, and (despite the post-modern turn in academia) reinforces the viability of the concept of culture in the first place (see Dominguez 1992). "Yet anthropology did not only invent cultures as discrete entities; it celebrated diversity between cultures in the further.idea that culture lay in the very inventiveness with which people played off their differences from one another" (Strathern 1994:9). Twenty years ago anthropologists such as Wagner (1981) and Pouillon (1980) suggested that societies use reified notions of tradition in order to define themselves against others through invocation of a unique, authenticated past. More recently, Appadurai (1997:12,13) suggests that the "most valuable feature of the concept of culture is the concept of difference, a contrastive rather than a substantive property.... I suggest that we regard as cultural only those differences that either express, or set the groundwork for, the mobilization of group identity." He argues that 33 culture serves a diacritical function similar to tradition— characterized by the conscious, strategic selection and presentation of certain practices or traits from an "open-ended archive of differences" (ibid: 14)-- aiding in the construction and representation of identity in a shrinking global village. Within societies undergoing internal change, where historical or colonial pressures weaken normative controls, differentiating controls (limiting individual invention by consolidating authority) are revitalized through conspicuous conventionalization (establishment of collective traditions) (Wagner 1981:59; c.f. Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983:4-5). Likewise, Heath (1994:97) states that this "dialogic relationship between these centralizing and alternatiyg,or differentiating processes is a defining feature of cultural hegemony." In other words, we are more likely to observe an official rhetoric of "national tradition"— defining and authenticating the boundaries of unique and cohesive cultural units through appeals to historical continuity— in precisely those moments that control over the practices used to define those traditions may be locally unstable and contested. I am suggesting that such a process is occurring amongst the Kwakwaka'wakw as they attempt to reconsolidate control over individual rank and privilege at the local level at the same time as establish a unique global identity based on the presentation of emblematic cultural forms. Debates surrounding the Hamat'sa vacillate between these two scales, and the apparently contradictory nature of opinions occurs in the slippage as a language of tradition is applied to negotiate what is a perpetually reinvented performance. The Hamat'sa has in fact always been central to representations of identity, and it should come as no surprise that such a "key performance" (Fine and Speer 1992:13) or "key emblem" (Thomas 1992:219) shifted in signification over time. I also think it is likely that the cannibalistic imagery inherent in the Hamat'sa helped grant it significant drama and semiotic strength as a marker of both insider and outsider group status, as well as larger political and cosmological boundaries. To begin with, once adopted and transformed by the Kwakwaka'wakw, it simply distinguished the neighboring sources of the dance from local variations (see Levi-Strauss 1982 on such borrowing processes). Once established as a highly ranked performance, it signified the superiority of the chiefly lineages over mere commoners. In the context of potlatehes and Winter Ceremonials, the possessed and specifically cannibalistic state of the initiate marked the sacredness of the performer against the profanity of the audience, mere witnesses to the manifestation of supernatural and social power. The importance and staging of the Hamat'sa as a cannibalistic performance may have actually increased under colonization as people reacted to, as resisted, the imposition of Christian values. Thomas (1992:219) describes a similar occurrence of cannibalistic "performances" in the Pacific, where "islanders seem to have registered foreign perceptions of what was horrifying and to have paraded the horrifying practices in a taunting manner," almost in an attempt to remain the "savage others" that they were being constructed as. What Thomas calls this "inversion of tradition," Tuleja (1997:9) calls "parodic parry," in which negative stereotypes are appropriated and reversed as a means of resistance. Since cannibalism represented that which was most removed from civilization, perhaps the Kwakwaka'wakw flaunted it in the face of 34 missionaries and government administrators in an attempt to remain just that. Heath (1994:93) reports similar "intentionally inappropriate dancing" in Africa. Locally, however, the Hamat'sa concludes with the taming of the initiate, with his (or her) return to a "cultured" state as distinguished from the "savage" state of childhood. In its role as an individual rite of passage, it is about personal growth and maturity. As the Hamat'sa becomes transformed from the privilege of a few individuals to a national or cultural emblem, so too does this renewal imagery get applied to cultural history more broadly. In fact, many 20th century Kwakwaka'wakw, especially those devoted to Christianity, interpret the Hamat'sa as a image of the evolution of both the species and the culture itself, from savagery to civilization if you will. As one man articulates this view: Kwag'iulth people already knew about evolution. [When the dancer first comes out] you're so skinny and so weak from being in the woods for four months living off the land or whatever you could get to eat. You're so hungry, you're craving human flesh. . . . That's when the beat goes like this, that's called Tsa'katla, "wild." [The beat] goes like that all the time when you are in your animal form. If you're in your animal form. [During the second song] he gets up, now he's just in a semii-crouching position. [In the third song] he stands up, but his back is still bent, his bum is sort of sticking out a bit, his knees down like this. It's like an ape is trying to stand up but can't. [After the fourth song] he comes out and he's got his blanket on him, and he's standing straight up, back stiff as a board, proud, chest out, no longer hungry. Mellow, content, noble, humble. Still proud. . . . To me, that's way before this Darwin guy. He then equated the red color of the cedar bark (which is protective against the cannibal spirit and worn by both the initiate and the audience with the blood of Christ) and suggested that it is this similar affinity for blood (at least symbolically) that keeps one civilized, so that "you're not going to turn around and bite the person next to you because all of a sudden you're possessed." Later, after speaking of his personal maturation process, he mentioned that "it took us a century to become controlled, to calm down." The fact that "traditional" cannibalism is once again emphasized in public interpretation of masks and dances may signify both the exoticness of an authenticated indigenous past as well as the success made in accommodating to Western civilization and modernity. In terms of providing an opposition identity, one man explained to me, "We have a different creator, not the God of the whiteman. See, we were cannibals. Not recently, but back then." Thus a practice negatively evaluated against colonial standards of morality, yet codified by anthropologists, now becomes a tradition positively valued as a distinguishing cultural trait. Or as Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1998:161) puts it: "By narrowing the domain of what could be considered normative, critics of traditional ceremonies and customs simultaneously expanded the field of the nonnormative. What one was too ashamed to do, one could study, collect, and display.... The process of negating cultural practices reverses itself once it has succeeded in archaizing the 'errors'; indeed through a process of archaizing, which is a mode of cultural production, the repudiated is transvalued as heritage." The Hamat'sa continues to provide a crucial role in defining the identity of individual dancers as well as 35 that of the Kwakwaka'wakw, especially in this time of cultural revitalization. Which is precisely why some individuals are concerned over its transformation: I think that we went through a rough time, and a lot of us just, a lot of people accept it without even knowing the Western bullshit. And uh, that's like 80% of us. There's only 20% that really believe who they are and know who they are. Its really sad. You know. People who were really close to me, and who were around me all their lives. . . have no sense of nationality, no sense of honor, no sense of anything. So, I think we're really lost as a— I'm not talking about the Hamat'sas, all the Hamat'sas are proud of who they are, all the Hamat'sas are insulted that they don't get fed first. Truly, you can put that down there, they are insulted by that. Hamat'sas know their rights in our society. And they're not getting it. . . . I'm looking at it from a different perspective than you as a European or as a Caucasian or a North American wouldTbok at it. Evidence of the continuing importance of the Hamat'sa is found also in discourse emphasizing its sacredness. Many people suggested that it is too sacred to show to outsiders, to tourists, as mere entertainment. People specifically report a recent change in attitude toward Hamsamls, the dramatic bird masks used in performance of the Hamat'sa; I can attest that six years ago these masks were performed for summer tourists in Alert Bay and now they are not. People say the elders were unhappy that the masks were shown as they are now held to constitute the most important part of the ceremony. One singer, who incidentally helped teach the AIDT, describes this "change in the respect, in the reverence that is supposed to be given to the Hamsamls. It is the most sacred of our dances, and it shouldn't— our elders and everybody now are feeling that it shouldn't be brought out... for just public performances. Just within cultural, for cultural reasons and, you know, ceremonial events." This attitude does not extend as far as wanting all masks to come off display in museums, but it may mark the first stage in a "resacralization" process which could end in such requests (as did Coast Salish attitudes toward their Sxw6:yxwey masks; for a similar process among the Tlingit, see Kan 1990: 363). It may be that as the Hamat'sa becomes more decontextualized and removed from local representational control, the more it may be intentionally removed from performative contexts altogether and restricted to ritual. Given the ways in which the Hamat'sa is constituent of individual and emblematic of national identities, it is no surprise that those held to have no rights to perform the dance are invalidated and marked as other in many ways. Privileging the authenticity of the reserve as a site of traditional activity and knowledge, one man suggests that all women Hamat'sas are products of the West: "It's just a matter of the Western world coming in to our world. It's a matter of Caucasian thinking people who are all urbanites. I mean, check it out, every one of them are urbanites." Another identified other Kwakwaka'wakw people performing the Hamat'sa with no right: "There's people that don't even live on the reserve, who aren't even culturally.rwhat's the word for it— taught, they are culturally illiterate, they're dancing in Vancouver" (see Peters 1997). Two men identified some people who they feel have no valid claims as being "C-31s," only recently returned to the reserve and now attempting to integrate themselves politically and ceremonially. Other performers are invalidated as white or, as in the case of the American Indian Dance Theater, non-Kwakwaka'wakw. Performance itself is set off as acting, imitating, "playing," rather than 36 participating in culture. Some of the women are marked as feminists, lesbians, Moderns. In appealing to tradition to evaluate the authenticity of contemporary identities, people are selectively remembering the cultural past in order to intentionally re-member present group boundaries. The dialectic of innovation and tradition is complicated by shifts in the scale of identity and the context of representation, and these case studies illustrate what happens when cultural forms circulate across those boundaries. Social identity always involves exchange; contesting ascriptions is a necessary feature of differentiation.... The exchange factor also operates within group boundaries, as members continually reassess not only their commonalities, but also their place as individuals with multiple allegiances. The internal contestation of identity and identity markers inevitably colors the representation of 'group' identity... . Traditional practices, then, enable us to present ourselves, in a fluctuating present, to ourselves, at precisely the moment when universal culture. . . seeks to palliate, and thus obliterate, stylistic distinctions. In this atmosphere, to embrace an ethnic or regional or intentional style becomes, far more than a quirk of identity, a centrifugal empowerment. In their zest for the particular, the actors here enlist 'survivals' in a quest for personal communion, for collective identity- and for survival itself. (Tuleja 1997:9, 15) Locally, Kwakwaka'wakw people are contesting specific prerogatives by appealing to or challenging the authenticity of claims; here we find a language of restricted access, rank, and sacredness applied to a dance taught to all kids in elementary school. On the more global stage, people are vying for the right to control generalized displays of a national culture through appeals to the traditional rights of individual chiefs; here we witness a language of aesthetics, drama, and emblematicness attached to a so-called "secret society." Yet these contradictions in discourse do not indicate cultural instability or decay of tradition. Instead, they are part of the basic process whereby the past is put in service of the present; for "the concrete desire to live different futures is the motor driving the construction of different pasts" (Schechner 1993:223). Complicate this with the political climate of treaty negotiations which require the identification of reified cultural and national boundaries, and we find academic, legal, and aboriginal discourses of tradition intersecting. Emblematic performances and specialized knowledge are offered as evidence of persisting cultural traditions and political unity (Hanson 1997:212; Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998:65). Yet when these practices are in flux locally, it undermines national claims. In that case, it is often up to "experts" or culture bearers to arbitrate judgment as to how authentic certain practices are. One woman in Alert Bay, trained in university, appeals to the anthropological culture concept when speaking of such processes, and criticizing the freedom with which dances are taught in school: That's not how people learned these things traditionally. . . . I don't think you teach culture in the school, you live it. It's not being taught in a holistic way. . . . I'm concerned about the kind of invention that goes on [when] I see young people beginning to, I call it invent culture, they no longer follow the rules as strictly as they should and that might be acceptable if like some other groups we had lost everything, but we didn't. . . . I realize that if culture is alive it changes, but I think it changes in an orderly fashion.63 What is being negotiated in Kwakwaka'wakw communities is the rights and responsibilities of people with certain "inalienable possessions" to give and keep them appropriately (Weiner 37 1992:40). The recent controversies around the Hamat'sa highlight the articulation of legal and aboriginal conceptions of intellectual and cultural property, control over which is crucial to the maintenance of both local and global identities. If cultural invention is held locally to be anathema to the maintenance of political sovereignty, then it is no wonder that tradition is invoked as the conceptual legitimator and delimiter of such change. How does the postmodernist deconstruction of culture (both as structure and praxis) allow for the political language necessary in such cases? Anthropology has spent the last century helping to dismantle the notion of racial determinism, arguably in the best interest of native people. But it has also provided the world with the concept of culture, one which everywhere is internalized as the marker of difference (Dominguez 1992:38). Ethnography aided in the codification and reification of individual cultures, and its classic texts have been appropriated in order to build contemporary indigenous identities and political claims. Now deconstructivist, academic theories of culture threaten to undermine aboriginal performance of culture. I think we need to be very sensitive to the ways in which our current analytical attention to cultural innovation articulates with local native discourses of tradition, in all their complexity. 38 NOTES 1 The anthropological literature on "kastom" in the Pacific explicitly addresses the indigenous appropriation and construction of a (localized and politicized) culture concept (see Keesing and Tonkinson 1982). 2 Lilley (1989:94) underlines the historical and political irony involved in treaty negotiations meant as redress for the violences of colonialism. Successful land claims require proof of active aboriginal traditions and land use, practices more likely to have been disrupted by effective assimilation tactics. Thus, those most damaged by colonialism have the hardest time proving the validity of their claims. 3 Many respondents described their use of legends, masks, songs, and dances— recorded in texts and on audio and video tape— in their current educational or potlatch practices. 4 At the same time, four people explicitly stated that they never read books about their culture, relying instead on what elders have told them. A couple of people admitted using recorded information but stated that they avoided reading interpretive material. 5 Such codification has also been called "biblification," "enshrinement," "petrification" (Dauenhauer and Dauenhauer 1995:92, 99, 102) and "entextualization" (Bauman and Briggs 1990:72). 6 People occasionally respond to questions by telling me to go read Boas. One individual challenged me to authenticate his claims by doing so. Bill Holm (personal communication, Seattle, March 1999) relates how tapes he made of one individual's privileges have been used in Kwakwaka'wakw communities to revive songs now practiced by all participants in potlatching. Many Northwest Coast First Nations do not use the term 'potlatch' to describe their ceremonials, prefering instead local terminology or more neutral terms such as 'feast' or 'do'. The Kwakwaka'wakw routinely use 'potlatch,' possible evidence for the local currency of ethnographic terminology. 7 Roy Wagner suggests that anthropological objectification goes so far as to create a "culture-cult" (1981:31, 151) out of the discipline, a proclivity which he compares to Melanesian cargo-cults. It is interesting to note that as anthropology deconstructs the culture concept and "traditional" methodology, First Nations selectively and strategically adopt disciplinary hallmarks to reconstruct or "invent" their contemporary culture. Whereas anthropologists have privileged "the field" as a site of authentic cultural activity, native discourse marks "the reserve" (Crosby 1997:11) or remote villages (Handler and Linnekin 1984:282) as the venues of genuine traditionalism. The reliance on ethnographically valuable "key informants" has given way to the privileging of "the Elder" (Crosby 1997:28) as the last purveyor of an authentic knowledge and experience presumably untainted by modernity. The way in which language is often equated directly with culture in aboriginal discourses of preservation/salvation (Dauenhauer and Dauenhauer 1995:99) is reminiscent of the now contested Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic determinism. Earlier 20th century anthropologists, with a romantic nostalgia for a pure, authentic native past they perceived to be vanishing, conducted "salvage" ethnography and collection; the tenacity with which First Nations attempt to record the last vestiges of traditional knowledge before it disappears with the elders and the language suggests a similar view (though one probably revisited by every generation in all cultures who fetishize the past). The naive and romantic natural sprituality with which Western observers infused every aspect of aboriginal culture is mirrored (and inverted) in contemporary native public discourse, especially surrounding art objects and performances; in the context of land and repatriation claims, objects tend to become "sacred" precisely because they are "cultural." In general, the old anthropological construction of "colonial difference" (Chatterjee 1993)- that is, the notion that cultural identities are defined according to racial, linguistic, and social traits in a deterministic and bounded system of classification- is revisted in contemporary native discourse about uniqueness and autonomy, even if the language of racial determinism has given way to cultural determinism (see Saunders 1997). The extent to which Northwest Coast First Nations subscribe to this cult of culture is revealed iii the language of salvation articulated in historical representations of "The Potlatch" and its "Prohibition:" as the outlawing of ceremonies and the removal of objects became the dominant metaphor for colonial disruption, the return of those sacred objects (and the "rebirth" of culture) takes on a messianic tone as repatriation is described as "Bringing the Ancestors Home" (REF). Evidence of such cultural reification (indexed by capitalization) in local Kwakwaka'wakw discourse is found in the pages of a newsletter published by the U'mista Cultural Centre: "Despite the efforts of the Canadian Government and the Church to eradicate the Potlatch, the strength and determination of our People has helped us work together towards the revival of our Culture and Language" (U'mista Cultural Society 1998:1) 8 Strathern (1994:9) reminds us that even in the age of hybridity and the fluid creation and traffic in cultural representations, all social dynamics occur in contexts of assymetrical power relations. Thus, even if culture is constantly invented and reinvented, borrowed and transculturated- that is, even if the essential property of culture is invention- people can still claim ownership of the very creative process itself- that is, inventiveness as (intellectual and cultural) property, the right to create one's own representations. 39 9 There is a parallel here to Bourdieu's (1984) semiotic theory of art and its cultural value. He claims that art has social currency precisely because we deny it a conceptual role in the market economy; in other words, art is perceived to be above the profanities of the commodity (i.e. the limit to commodification), thereby granting it considerable exchange value. Likewise, I am arguing that tradition is perceived to be a phenomenon other than— and conceptualy opposed to— change in society, thereby granting it considerable semiotic power as a legitimator of (and limit to) innovation. 1 0 Boas (1897:664; 1966:258) reports 1835 as the approximate date of aquisition of the Hamat'sa by Ft Rupert Kwag'iulth in a raid on the Heiltsuk. This has been codified in the literature and reproduced many times (c.f. Codere 1950: 111, 448; Hawthorn 1979:45; Wolf 1997:107). While this event is not in question/or the Kwag'iulth, other Kwakwaka'wakw villages have their own origin stories, reinforcing the view that Boas' "Kwakiutl" privileges Ft. Rupert. 1 1 Eisenstadt (1973a: 157; 1973b:5) suggests that control over ideology is one of the strongest ways for leaders to maintain power by restricting access to (and innovation of) cultural meanings. It is no coincidence that the secret society system of the Kwakwaka'wakw acted as a winter version of the ranked social hierarchy, granting the chiefs spiritual and ideational efficacy in the sacred ceremonial season. Wolf (1999:110) suggests that the "secret" held by such secret societies is not specific details of cultural practice, but the general knowledge that there is power in staged authenticity and the rhetoric of tradition. 1 2 Of central concern, much information on this traces back to George Hunt. A) Jacobsen (1884:29) presents Hunt's report of cannibalism at Ft. Rupert back in 1860— for which the village was punished by Government gunboat bombardment- and suggests that the Kwag'iulth gave up the practice at this time. B) Yet Hunt apparently participated in a Hamat'sa ceremonial in the early 1900s, for which he was arrested; Drucker and Heizer (1967:86) suggest that this event prompted the substitution of simulated cannibalism. C) Curtis (1915:221) reports that of all his informants, only Hunt was insistent that cannibalism was still practiced. He goes on to cite four of Hunt's first person accounts, all of which importantly occured in non-Kwag'iulth villages. In fact, as early as 1879, Hunt reported to the Indian Agent full-fledged cannibalism among three other Kwakwaka'wakw bands (Sproat 1879:148). In addition, Bill Holm (personal communication, March 1999, Seattle) described a list that Hunt made naming individuals known to have practiced cannibalism. In light of this, and Hunt's centrality to the historical record, we might read the above accounts as A) Hunt's deflection of accusations of cannibalism from his own village; B) a statement of his personal participation in "civilizing" the ritual; C) his accusation of cannibalism leveled at rival villages. 1 3 In his earliest (1895) descriptions of Baxwbakwalanuxwsiwe', the possessing spirit of the Hamat'sa, Boas translates the name as "The first one to devour human flesh at the river mouth." A few years later (1897:394), he changes that to "The first one to eat man at the mouth of the river, i.e. north," and describes the Hamat'sa as "a cannibal." By 1905, he begins using the translation which would then remain consistent in future texts, "The cannibal at the north end of the world." Likewise, in 1897, although referring to cannibalistic imagery, Boas refers to the dancer as "the Hamat'sa." By 1910, he renders the word Hamat'sa as "Cannibal" in the English translations, and in the most used ethnographic treatment of the Kwakwaka'wakw (1966), "Cannibal spirit," "Cannibal dancer" and "Cannibal society" are used throughout. Today, many texts repeat this useage (e.g. Wolf 1999:106 mentions "the cannibal dancer, or hamatsa" and then uses "Man-Eater" and "Cannibal Society"). Furthermore, it is common within Kwakwaka'wakw communities to speak of the Hamat'sa as the Cannibal Dance, Dancer and Society, and Baxwbakwalanuxwsiwe' as the Cannibal Spirit, especially among those individuals likely to have read Boas. Non-literate or older individuals tend not to reproduce these translations, and instead say the terms have no direct equivalent in English. The embedding of historical representations (both ethngographic and indigenous) of the Hamat'sa in a larger European "Cannibal Complex" remains to be examined in detail (I'll get around to it in the PhD). 1 4 Continuing the recent trend of revitalized popular interest in cannibalism, McDowell (1997) attempts to uncover the historical factuality of reports of anthropophagy on the Northwest Coast. Instead, he makes a muddle of the historical, ethnographic and interpretive literature. Interestingly, he uses the term "Hamatsa" and an image of a Hamsamlmask (those used for the Hamat'sa), to represent cannibalistic activity "On the Pacific Northwest Coast," extrapolating from the Kwakwaka'wakw to the entire region and certainly cashing in on the notoriety and drama of this dance. 1 5 The program for a 1960s tourist performance in Alert Bay translates Hamatsa as "The rebirth of man." Harkin (1997:105) discusses a Kwakwaka'wakw priest who interpreted the Hamat'sa symbols for his congregation as sacrificial imagery, and the initiation process as one of self-purification. 40 1 6 This has caused disruption at recent potlatches, as children with the technical knowledge but not the social right to perform it jump out onto the floor with the other Hamat'sa dancers. In some cases, they were pulled back or quickly accompanied by an older relative with a recognized claim; it is also encouraged that the families of such children make a public distribution of money or digit'a, to make ammends for the breach of protocol. 1 7 The Kwak'wala speaking people never had a pan-village political identity and, locally at least, still do not. The largest (more or less) stable social units were a few ammalgamated villages and alliances. It is unlikely that there will ever be a "Kwakwaka'wakw Treaty" at the scale of the Nisga'a's. 1 8 Wagner (1981:120-4) discusses the same dialectical tensions between what he calls "differentiation" and "conventionalization" as tribal people become urbanized. 1 9 Most respondents described ways in which the contemporary potlatch has become generalized: winter and summer ceremonies are joined into a single, abbreviated event; different families and villages use the same songs and dances in some cases; there is less variation in the performance of specific dances. In addition, a chief recently composed a popular song, available to anyone, which one singer described as an "anthem" for the Kwakwaka'wakw. 2 0 The following brief history is drawn primarily from Bauman and Briggs (1990) and Fine and Speer (1992). 2 1 Bauman and Briggs (1990) argue that cultural performance (in the Saussurean/Chomskian sense) is more than simply the application of some conventions of speech/culture to a given context; it is creative, plural, multivocal and constructive of the very conventions themselves. In the same spirit, Sahlins (1982) and Keesing (1981) suggest we might reconcile individualistic/processual and social/structural approaches to culture by adopting the same model, recognizing cultural practice or performance as being dialectically— not dualistically— related to cultural competence. Wagner (1982:109) draws a similar relationship between cultural conventions and inventions. Might we then extend these insights into the current discussion by viewing "traditional culture" as the inherited and largely tacit (though occasionally, and strategically, articulated) storehouse of cultural forms, rules and meanings at our disposal, in other words "historial competence;" and "cultural invention" as the specifically contextualized and performed manipulations of those forms to suit current projects, in other words "historical practice?" In this way, "tradition" and "invention" lose their values as antithetical and become instead mutually constituting. 2 2 MacCannell (1976) makes the same point about the advent of tourism, which is interesting to note in the context of tourist performances. 2 3 Some Kwakwaka'wakw maintain that in the old days, the 'Ma'mak'a was the highest ranked dance. Boas (1897:498-500) corroborates this. This may be indication of variation in family privilege or competition between different family, village or generational factions. 2 4 Charley Nowell (Ford 1968:186-90) tells the now locally famous story of how Kwakwaka'wakw at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair carved a realistic portrait head of an African "pygmy" from a nearby ethnographic village who frequented their performances. One day, they surprised their new friend by grabbing him from the audience during the Hamat'sa and then horrified the audience by appearing to decapitate him using the stage prop head. It took festival organizers to intervene and keep the dancers from being arrested, and the event made local headlines. This episode suggests the theatrical contexts in which the Kwakwaka'wakw adapted their rituals, the flexibility with which they incorporated "outsiders," and perhaps the dramatic avenues open for (not-so-subtle) resistance efforts. I return to this point in the conclusion. 2 5 It is interesting, and perhaps ironic, to note how in the 1950s, native self-government was seen as a progressive move towards westernization and modernization, and the legacy of performance was relegated to mundane entertainments, while today, it is precisely such traditional culture (exhibitable through objects and performances) which is held up as the a priori justification for aboriginal rights and title. 2 6 It is also important to realize that in the 1950s and 60s, when pub'ic potlatching was revived, people may have looked to more informal performance contexts to get back into the swing of things, so to speak. Bill Holm (personal communication, March, 1999, Seattle) built a model bighouse at a camp on Lopez Island in 1956, and invited Kwakwaka'wakw people to come and hold "play potlatches" both for the camp children and for themselves. He reports that this was great fun for them, and that it provided a context "free from the pressures of the potlatch [when] nobody had to worry about such 'business'" (that is, the responsibility of protocol, initiation and payments). He suggests that this may have provided incentive for people to revive the dancing as part of a re-emergent potlatch system. Another illustration of theater feeding back into ritual. 2 7 With all of these developments came considerable local controversy and contest. Sewid recounts the.discontent surrounding his early efforts to organize dancing for fund-raisers in the 1950s (Spradley 1969:158-62). Much of the resistance to touristic or educational displays remains focused on the Hamat'sa and its ritual centrality to the potlatch. Many people feel it is wrong to perform the Hamat'sa unless a new dancer is to be formally initiated, or unless there are validating payments made to witnesses. Moreover, depending on the specific performers and 41 audience, the content of any given dance display must be specifically negotiated, where protocol is balanced with the need to educate and make money. As one young dancer commented, "some things you just have to do. Tricky that way, our culture is tricky." 2 8 See footnote #19 for accounts of such generalization. 2 9 The Hamat'sa may have also been valued in other kinds of exchanges, evidence of its cultural currency beyond the Kwakwaka'wakw alone. For example, when George Hunt attempted to collect the famous Whaler's Shrine from the Moachat (Nuu-chah-nulth) in 1904, the chiefs there asked for certain Hamat'sa songs and privileges in return (see Jonaitis 1988:184). 3 0 Bruce Miller (personal communication, January 1999, UBC), suggests that the giving of performance privileges may be seen as a corollary to the bestowing of "empty" names onto outsiders to aid in the maintenance of personal or political relationships. This would make sense in the context of both the historical roleoF potlatch exchange in Kwakwaka'wakw culture and the specific diplomatic climate of the 1950s and 60s. 3 1 People often insist that performances should be kept specific to individual families or, where that is not possible due to lack of historical detail, to specific villages. This holds true for names, songs, variations in dance movements and regalia use. The very nature of the AIDT's performance limits the variation in Hamat'sa privileges to a single emblematic form, that derived from the specific prerogatives of an individual family. Thus it may be that people challenge that this specific individual's version of things is put forward to represent all Kwakwaka'wakw. 3 2 She went on to make this point vociferously: "But all I know is that you don't invent it. It has to be in your family, it has to have a name, it has to come from somewhere. . . . Its really important for people to know that, its not something you invent. Its given to you through marriage or its in your family. And I don't think, and I strongly, strongly believe in it, that non-native people should never be a Hamat'sa, its so shameful. Its shameful for us to even initiate a non-native. I don't care if they're White, Chinese, or whatever. You don't initiate other nationalities. That's really going beyond the— its sacred to us, and a lot of the sacred is just being taken away now. We don't need to make it worse than it is, by giving it to a non-native." 3 3 There are many cases, however, where the Hamat'sa has been given to people from other families, or where the genealogical link is more tenuous, in order to foster specific relationships. For instance, one young man who had been singing and dancing for many years was challenged by some people for not owning the right to many of the performances he was teaching; in response, a close family friend initiated him as a Hamat'sa to defer the critics. Another young man reported: "I know people that wanted their son to be a Hamat'sa, to do the Hamat'sa now, but th^y had to look back hundreds and hundreds of years and ask all these old people, and look back at the old things, and they finally found that there was a Hamat'sa that could be used. And he finally got it." It is interesting to note that he had just given an account of exactly where his Hamat'sa privilege came from, and may have been challenging the authenticity of this other person's claim. 3 4 People will always challenge the claims and acts of chiefs in the potlatch context and outside of it. Part of the role of potlatching is to provide a public venue in which to hash out these negotiations, a lot of which is done with great rhetorical flourish. Perhaps the difficulty that people have with this specific issue is that it was done in private, away from the community voice and away from the bighouse. 3 5 To my knowledge, none of these conditions have actually been met by the AIDT. They have neither provided all the due royalties nor returned the masks with the agreement to stop presenting the Hamat'sa. The group has recently disbanded, making it difficult to imagine the issues being resolved. Thus, regardless of how closely the chief may have tried to monitor the exchange, some loss of control is inevitable, and it may be this that people ultimately take offense to. 3 6 An example of 19th century "tradition" rhetoric in the context of inter-village rivalry: "We [the Koskimo] have traditions that teach us our laws. We are not like our rivals, the Kwakiutl. I have tried to discover the origin of their names which they use in the winter ceremonial, but no one could tell me, for they have no traditions" (Boas 1897:592). Granted, Boas used the term "traditions" to refer to customs in general, but here it clearly refers to the past as justification for the present. 3 7 There is evidence that the village ranking system was a bi-product of village ammalgamation around trading posts, especially Ft Rupert, and increased competition in trade and potlating during the mid 19th century (see Wolf 1999:86-7, 115-16 for a summary and further references). 3 8 Granted the topic changes slightly, as he was initially responding to his grandfather's giving of the Hamat'sa to a white researcher, while he was then commenting on the gift to the Dance Theater. So contradictions in discourse may have strategic contexts of deployment. 3 9 The following discussion draws primarily on Ortner 1996 and Shoemaker 1995. This is not the place for a thorough review of feminist anthropology, as much as I am inclined to squeeze one in. 42 4 0 This literature has a corollary in that surrounding alternative gender roles. Exploration of trans-gendered, homosexual, and transvestite "traditions" in native societies has been largely in service of the construction of contemporary identities (see Jacobs, Thomas, and Lang 1997 for a recent example). 4 1 Payne (in Brock 1989:42) describes how women anthropologists working in such a context become important "keepers of culture" in another politically charged sense, i.e. as allies and advocates. 4 2 See Shoemaker 1995:19, as well as Thomas 1994 and Stoler 1992 on gender and the feminizing of indigenous people under European colonialism. 4 3 Ortner selects this term for its balance of structured rules and individual strategy within a context of power, inequality and high stakes (1996:12-3). As such she prefers "game" over "project" (too consciously manipulated), "drama" (too scripted), or "narrative" (too discursive), while acknowledging their relations and relevance. 4 4 Women's value to male chiefs could be variable: they provided productive labor, both internally and through the growing wage economy; they were "exchanged" in marriages for new wealth and prerogatives; in some cases they became prostitutes in the cities as a source of revenue for prospective potlatchers. 4 5 It is interesting to note that today, the Hamshamt'sas is performed by a few families as a "training" dance for boys who will later be initiated as Hamat'sas. The marking of it as a child's dance may be equivalent to earlier female connotations of subordination. 4 6 Today, there is some consensus that women can learn hereditary songs so that they will not be forgotten, but that they are not to sit with the male chiefs and perform those songs during potlatches. This is similar to the teaching of the Hamat'sa to children for posterity, while prohibiting them from displaying their knowledge ceremonially. 4 7 Bill Holm (personal communication, March 1999, Seattle) witnessed a woman being initiated as a Hamat'sa in Campbell River in 1960. He also reports that chiefs berated him for having a white man dance as his Hamat'sa (i.e. with Holm's songs), suggesting instead that he should have given it to his daughter (as he had no sons). 4 8 Bill Holm (personal communication, March 1999, Seattle) reports that chiefs wrote songs for him and his wife which subtly (imperceptibly to non-Kwak'wala speakers) alerted audiences to breaches in protocol, including a time his wife danced in a Hamsaml mask. Likewise, tapes made of Tom Willie, a well known composer who recently passed away, record Hamat'sa songs about drunk people humiliating themselves, stingy people, and people dancing with no rights (U'mista File 3030.7.2). 4 9 See Lilley (1989:84-5) for a similar situation in Aboriginal Australia. 5 0 This information is pieced together from many accounts. The chief seems to have been Dick Webber, also known as K'odi Dick. One person identified the woman as Daisy Webber and one as Mrs. Sam Webber, but most people call her Anitsa (a relatively common Kwak'wala name). Mungo Martin recorded a song belonging to her with Ida Halpern in 1951 (notes in U'mista Cultural Centre archives, card #12 titled "Woman Hamatsa Song"). He said it was a well honored, very old song (mentioning "27 years ago"), and that "she, too, had to stay up in the woods." This is hard to reconcile with accounts of her as a little child at the time. 5 1 In fact, some of the contemporary women holding the Hamat'sa do not perform in potlatches, although whether this is for personal or protocol reasons may vary. 5 2 "I mean the chiefs got really mad at the woman, female Humsums. Their reasoning was, back in the old days, when they got down— you know how the Humsum goes down in a crouching position, and he starts to swoop, and he's got his hands spread out and he starts to swoop- well back then they didn't have panties. And then you have an attendant behind you, and what does that attendant do when you are getting up with this big 6 foot long mask? He gets up and he grabs you around the chest, to help you up. Now what do you do when you grab a pair of. . . breasts? Can't they see the logic?" 5 3 This case is complicated due to interfamily rivalries and specific controversies directly preceding this woman's initiation. It is possible that she- and this issue- are simply diverting attention from deeper contests. A man, in a different context, challenged her father's rights to the Hamat'sa to begin with, as well as his decision to transfer it to her. 5 4 "They sigh, they lie, they act mad, they act sad, they act glad, they act bad, they — everything to confuse us, and they usually get their way." 5 5 "One reason is that the women, well that the women have different, the men haven't been living as long as the women have, and more of the chiefs have been going fast and so we have the women here to ask, you know, they're the only ones we've got now so, you know. Things have changed, you know, from what the chiefs said— not by, on purpose or anything, it's just, you know, say if I told you something, you could tell it different on the other side. So, things could be getting lost a little bit between the chief and everybody else." 5 6 Jo-anne Fiske (personal phone communication, May, 1999) calls attention to the irony of people using recent western designations such as "dyke" to defend the integrity of Kwakwaka'wakw traditions. 43 5 71 have found reference to at least one in Boas. The person who best described these specific privileges is related to both of these women and, while never invoking Boas directly, is the one person in the community most likely to have thoroughly read Boas' work. 5 8 In regards to questions about the practice of cannibalism, some older people suggested it may have happened "way, way back" or "hundreds of years ago" or "way before contact," while a younger dancer said, "I'm sure we were a long, long, like those guys there, those guys were cannibals," pointing to a photo from around 1900. This brings up the further question of generational differences in the (shifting) time frame of tradition. 5 9 This was clearly said more for the benefit of other Kwakwaka'wakw present, to whom he must answer in the community, than for the general public. 6 0 This is merely a preliminary suggestion, and not based on personal testimonial. It is interesting to note though, that these women chose to accept the Hamat'sa privilege even though it meant giving up "the rights to do all other hereditary dances, many of which were quite meaningful to them. 6 1 It may be relevant that this speaker had just said "it doesn't necessarily have to be your oldest son that's gonna be your Hamat'sa." 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