Agnes Alfred (c. 1890-1992) was one of the last great storytellers of her generation. A non-literate Qwiqwasutinuxw noblewoman, she wove her narratives from myths, chants, historical accounts, and personal reminiscences. Paddling to Where I Stand is her first-hand account of the most significant period of change she and her people experienced since first contact, and her memoirs flow from her urgently felt desire to pass on her knowledge to younger generations. Eloquent and well versed in the Kwakwakawakw customs, she sets forth, in the classic oral tradition, the foundations and the enduring pulse of her living culture. She contributes to our understanding of several traditional practices, including pre-arranged marriages and the traditional potlatch ceremonies. She also shows how a First Nations woman managed to quietly fulfill her role as a noble matriarch in her ever-changing society, thus providing a role model for those who came after her. Offering stories that are both humorous and moving, Paddling to Where I Stand is an original and fascinating read.
Martine J. Reid (editor) is an independent scholar whose interests are in the field of Northwest Coast cultural and aesthetic anthropology. Daisy Sewid-Smith (translator) is Agnes Alfred's granddaughter, a cultural historian, and a Kwakwaka'wakw language instructor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria.
Preface Acknowledgments Introduction 1 Myth Time 2 War, Conflict, and Slavery 3 Childhood 4 Becoming a Woman 5 Marrying Moses Alfred 6 Ceremonies and Rituals 7 Fragments of Recollections Eulogy for Granny Axuw Epilogue Appendices Notes References Index