The Tsimshians are a Northwest Coast Native people known for their dazzling works of art and rich array of social, religious, and oral traditions that have captured the attention of scholars for over a century. Jay Miller brings together for the first time a wealth of material about the Tsimshians, presenting an unforgettable picture of their cultural universe. That universe is built around the metaphor of light, which was brought into the world by Raven; its refraction forms the chief social, religious, and symbolic institutions of Tsimshian culture. Family heraldic crests express light in one way, masks in another. Miller argues convincingly that the genius of Tsimshian culture, and one of the main reasons for its continuing vitality, is that its people are sensitive to different, and often creative, ways of capturing and embodying light.
Jay Miller is the editor of Mourning Dove, A Salishan Autobiography (Nebraska 1991) and the author of Lushootseed Culture and the Shamanic Odyssey (Nebraska 1999).