People of the Saltwater


People of the Saltwater

An Ethnography of Git lax m'oon

Charles R. Menzies

198 pages
5 photographs, 2 maps, 1 table, index


September 2016


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

September 2016


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

September 2016


$45.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

A 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

In People of the Saltwater, Charles R. Menzies explores the history of an ancient Tsimshian community, focusing on the people and their enduring place in the modern world. The Gitxaała Nation has called the rugged north coast of British Columbia home for millennia, proudly maintaining its territory and traditional way of life.

People of the Saltwater first outlines the social and political relations that constitute Gitxaała society. Although these traditionalist relations have undergone change, they have endured through colonialism and the emergence of the industrial capitalist economy. It is of fundamental importance to this society to link its past to its present in all spheres of life, from its understanding of its hereditary leaders to the continuance of its ancient ceremonies.

Menzies then turns to a discussion of an economy based on natural-resource extraction by examining fisheries and their central importance to the Gitxaałas’ cultural roots. Not only do these fisheries support the Gitxaała Nation economically, they also serve as a source of distinct cultural identity. Menzies’s firsthand account describes the group’s place within cultural anthropology and the importance of its lifeways, traditions, and histories in nontraditional society today. 

Author Bio

Charles R. Menzies (Gitxaała) is a professor of anthropology and director of the Ethnographic Film Unit at the University of British Columbia. He is the editor of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Natural Resource Management (Nebraska, 2006), the author of Red Flags and Lace Coiffes: Identity and Survival in a Breton Village, and coeditor of the journal Collaborative Anthropologies.


"An important contribution to scholarship about First Nations of the Northwest Coast."—Eric Oakley, Pacific Northwest Quarterly Magazine

"People of the Saltwater may be viewed as a hybrid, or crossover book that straddles the boundary between scholarly and popular. It is a significant addition to the scholarship of, and by, Indigenous peoples in British Columbia."—Robert Muckle, Ormsby Review

"People of the Saltwater brings to the scholarship of the Native Northwest Coast the traditional ways the Git lax m'oon exist in relationship with the lands they inhabit and the resources they husband."—Melonie Ancheta, American Indian Quarterly

“Menzies’s ethnography of the Gitxaala people is highly personal, enjoyably engaging, and a welcome contribution to community-based scholarship on the Northwest Coast. . . . Menzies’s analysis adds a clear voice to conversations about the impacts of global industrial processes on local peoples.”—Thomas McIlwraith, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Guelph and author of “We Are Still Didene”: Stories of Hunting and History from Northern British Columbia

Table of Contents


1. Git lax m’oon: Gitxaała and the Names Anthropologists Have Given Us

2. Smgigyet: Real People and Governance

3. Laxyuup: The Land and Ocean Territories of Gitxaała

4. Adaawx: History and the Past

5. Sihoon: Catching Fish

6. Tskah, Xs’waanx: Herring, Herring Roe

7. Bilhaa: Abalone

8. Hoon: Salmon






2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Also of Interest