Reserve Memories


Reserve Memories

The Power of the Past in a Chilcotin Community

David W. Dinwoodie

Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians Series

120 pages


September 2007


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Reserve Memories examines how myths and narratives about the past have enabled a Northern Athabaskan community to understand and confront challenges and opportunities in the present. For over five centuries the Chilcotin people have lived in relative isolation in the rich timberlands and scattered meadows of the inland Northwest, in what is today known as west central British Columbia. Although linguistic and cultural changes are escalating, they remain one of the more traditional and little known Native communities in northwestern North America.

Combining years of fieldwork with an acute theoretical perspective, David W. Dinwoodie sheds light on the special power of the past for the Chilcotin people of the Nemiah Valley Indian Reserve. In different social and political settings, they draw upon a "reserve" of memories-in particular, myths and historical narratives-and reactivate them in order to help make sense of and deal effectively with the possibilities and problems of the modern world. For example, the declaration of the Chilcotins against clear-cut logging draws upon one of their central myths, adding a deeper and more lasting cultural significance and resonance to the political statement.

Author Bio

David W. Dinwoodie is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico. His articles have appeared in Anthropological Linguistics and Cultural Anthropology.


"Intertwining anthropological and linguistic theory, translated Chilcotin passages, and engaging discussions of actual experience in the field, Reserve Memories offers much insight into the relationship between academic outsider and community insider. . . . Reserve Memories makes a significant contribution to our understanding of how First Nations communities conceptualize language and history."—Susan Roy, The Canadian Historical Review

"The combination of ethnographic contextualization, detailed text analysis, and theoretical integration make the work an exemplary contribution to the study of North American Indian language use and to linguistic anthropology more broadly."—Jane Hill, Journal of Anthropological Research

"This succinct and eloquent treatise warrants careful reading. . . . I envy Dinwoodie's linguistic acumen, and hope that he will return to the Chilcotin in the future and update us on the trajectory of Chilcotin myth and historical narration."—Antonia Mills, Anthropological Linguistics

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