Brushed by Cedar, Living by the River
Coast Salish Figures of Power
Crisca Bierwert has created a fresh poststructural ethnography that offers new insights into Coast Salish cultures. Arguing against the existence of a master narrative, she presents her understanding of these Native American peoples of Washington state and British Columbia, Canada, through poetic bricolage, offering the reader a pastiche of rich cultural images. Bierwert employs postmodern literary and social analyses to examine many aspects of Salish culture: legends and their storytellers; domestic violence; longhouse ceremonies; the importance and power of place; and disputes over fishing rights. Her reflections overlap as a dialogue would, weaving throughout the book significant threads of Salish knowledge and creating a nonauthoritative text that nonetheless speaks knowingly.
This book represents the future of contemporary anthropology. Unlike traditional ethnography, it makes no attempt to portray a complete picture of the Coast Salish. Instead, Bierwert utilizes a critical and diffuse approach that defies colonial, syncretic, and hegemonic structures and applies advanced literary theory to the creation of ethnography.
Brushed by Cedar is an important guideline for anyone who writes about other cultures and will be expecially useful to classes in the methodology and history of ethnography, as well as to scholars specializing in Native American studies or oral literatures.
--Bruce Miller, University of British Columbia