Chehalis Stories


Chehalis Stories

Edited by Jolynn Amrine Goertz with the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation
As Shared by Robert Choke, Marion Davis, Peter Heck, Blanche Pete Dawson, and Jonas Secena
Collected and Translated by Franz Boas

366 pages
5 photographs, 4 illustrations, 4 maps, 6 appendixes, index

eBook (PDF)
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February 2018


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March 2019


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February 2018


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eBook (EPUB)
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February 2018


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About the Book

Published through the Recovering Languages and Literacies of the Americas initiative, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

In Chehalis Stories Jolynn Amrine Goertz and the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation in Western Washington have assembled a collaborative volume of traditional stories collected by the anthropologist Franz Boas from tribal knowledge keepers in the early twentieth century. Both Boas and Amrine Goertz worked with past and present elders, including Robert Choke, Marion Davis, Peter Heck, Blanche Pete Dawson, and Jonas Secena, in collecting and contextualizing traditional knowledge of the Chehalis people.

The elders shared stories with Boas at a critical juncture in Chehalis history, when assimilation efforts during the 1920s affected almost every aspect of Chehalis life. These are stories of transformation, going away, and coming back. The interwoven adventures of tricksters and transformers in Coast Salish narratives recall the time when people and animals lived together in the Chehalis River Valley. Catastrophic floods, stolen children, and heroic rescues poignantly evoke the resiliency of the people who have carried these stories for generations.

Working with contemporary Chehalis people, Amrine Goertz has extensively reviewed the work of anthropologists in western Washington. This important collection examines the methodologies, shortcomings, and limitations of anthropologists’ relationship with Chehalis people and presents complementary approaches to field work and its contextualization.

Author Bio

Jolynn Amrine Goertz is a PhD candidate in literature at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.  She lives in Oakville, Washington.


"Chehalis Stories rather amazingly gives us the past, the present, and the future of Indigenous literary studies."—Danica Sterud Miller, Pacific Northwest Quarterly

"This exciting volume repatriates much traditional knowledge collected decades ago among Chehalis Salish Indians of western Washington by pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas and others. The importance of this point—that not just physical but also intellectual artifacts must return to Native control—cannot be overstated. This fine book pointedly makes long-inaccessible ancient stories available to and usable by tribal descendants."—David Robertson, Oregon Historical Quarterly

Chehalis Stories is a boon to those who wish to study these compelling narratives and at the same time learn about the work of early anthropologists in the Northwest. It differs from other collections of tales in putting the storytellers front and center [by] celebrating their lives and contributions to the cultural heritage of the Chehalis people.”—LLyn De Danaan, author of Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman’s Life on Oyster Bay

“Outstanding. This is the grand slam for Chehalis, Salish, and Native American stories, publishing the last third of these tribal stories even as it outpaces the wave of Franz Boas revival now gaining momentum.”—Jay Miller, author of Lushootseed Culture and the Shamanic Odyssey: An Anchored Radiance

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
A Story
xwəné·xwəne: A Story
Bear, Yellow Jacket, and Ant
A Visit to the Skokomish
Rabbit and Mountain Lion
The Flood
xwə́n and Raccoon
xwə́n Kills k’wə́cxwe
xwə́n and Bluejay
One-Legged Monster
Why the Dog Has Marks on His Paws
The Flood (The Deluge)
The Crows
Untitled Story
Beaver and the Woman
xwə́n and Crane
Raccoon and His Grandmother
The Five Brothers
The Chief and His House
The Way of the q’way’áyiɬq’
A Farewell Speech
Source Acknowledgments
Appendix 1: Lower Chehalis Stories
Appendix 2: Edmond S. Meany’s Chehalis Reservation Field Notes
Appendix 3: Franz Boas’s “A Chehalis Text”
Appendix 4: M. Dale Kinkade’s “Bear and Bee”
Appendix 5: M. Dale Kinkade’s “Daughters of Fire”

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