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.