Towards a New Ethnohistory

Community-Engaged Scholarship among the People of the River


Towards a New Ethnohistory engages respectfully in cross-cultural dialogue and interdisciplinary methods to co-create with Indigenous people a new, decolonized ethnohistory. This new ethnohistory reflects Indigenous ways of knowing and is a direct response to critiques of scholars who have for too long foisted their own research agendas onto Indigenous communities. Community-engaged scholarship invites members of the Indigenous community themselves to identify the research questions, host the researchers while they conduct the research, and participate meaningfully in the analysis of the researchers’ findings.

The historical research topics chosen by the Stó:lō community leaders and knowledge keepers for the contributors to this collection range from the intimate and personal, to the broad and collective. But what principally distinguishes the analyses is the way settler colonialism is positioned as something that unfolds in sometimes unexpected ways within Stó:lō history, as opposed to the other way around.

This collection presents the best work to come out of the world’s only graduate-level humanities-based ethnohistory field school. The blending of methodologies and approaches from the humanities and social sciences is a model of twenty-first century interdisciplinarity.


“At a time when Indigenous sovereignty has come to the fore, this volume sets the ‘gold standard’ for ethical scholarship and provides a roadmap and manifesto for sensible and sensitive decolonization.”

Chris Friday, Western Washington University

“Exemplifies a new, transdisciplinary approach to ethnohistory, in which the researcher recognizes not only the legacy of settler colonialism in Canada, but also the subjectivity and relativity of their own views and western knowledge as a whole. This new ethnohistory aims to work with the community at all levels of research and form and sustain relationships that last long after fieldwork is conducted. Its hope is to produce scholarship that is cutting edge, complex, accessible and relevant to members of the community.”

Daniel Sims, NICHE

“Settler scholars concerned with disciplinary crises need look no further than this excellent anthology for models of respectful intercommunity engagement, radical methodology and pedagogy, and a paradigm for solidarity work that chooses to develop respectful relationships over moribund agonizing.”

Madeleine Reddon, Canadian Literature

“Blending archival research with critical theory, oral history, and personal observation, the individual pieces explore the interplay of continuity and change in Stó:lō culture with a high degree of nuance and sophistication.”

Andrew H. Fisher, Pacific Northwest Quarterly

“The strength of the collection is its appreciation for and attention to interpreting history with reference to Stó:lō interpretative frames.”

Tyler McCreary, BC Booklook

“In a time when many scholars are looking to decolonize their approaches to research—especially when working with Indigenous communities—this book stands as a clear exemplar of community-engaged research and demonstrates how it can be done well.”

Jennifer Megan Markides, Qualitative Research in Education

"Navigating the roiling waters of contemporary identity politics, Indigenous issues, and scholarly debates are challenges in and of themselves, but, in this collection of essays, the contributors attempt to manage all three at once and calm the waters in the process."

Kerry Abel, University of Toronto Quarterly

About the Authors

Keith Thor Carlson is Professor of History at the University of Saskatchewan, where he holds the Research Chair in Indigenous and Community-Engaged history.

John Sutton Lutz is the Chair and a Professor in the History Department at the University of Victoria.

David M. Schaepe is the Director and Senior Archaeologist of the of the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre at Stó:lō Nation.

Naxaxalhts’i, also known as Dr. Albert “Sonny” McHalsie, is a historical researcher and cultural interpreter.

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Kinship obligations to the Environment: Interpreting Stó:lō Xa:ls Stories of the Fraser Canyon
Ch. 2 Relationships: A Study of Memory, Change, and Identity at a Place Called I:yem
Ch. 3 Crossing Paths: Knowing and Navigating Routes of Access to Stó:lō Fishing Sites
Ch. 4 Stó:lō Ancestral Names, Identity and the Politics of History
Ch. 5 Disturbing the Dead: Diversity and Commonality Among the Stó:lō
Ch. 6 Food as a Window into Stó:lō Tradition and Stó:lō-Newcomer Relation
Ch. 7 'Bringing Home all that has Left’: The Skulkane / Stalo Heritage Project and the Stó:lō Cultural Revival
Ch. 8 Totem Tigers and Salish Sluggers: A History of Boxing in Stó:lō Territory, 1912-1985
Ch. 9 'I was Born a Logger’: Stó:lō Identities Forged in the Forest
Ch. 10 'They are Always Looking for the Bad Stuff’: Listening with Fresh Ears to the History of Coqualeetza Indian School
Ch. 11 Next Steps in Indigenous Community-Engaged Research: Supporting Research Self-Sufficiency in Indigenous Communities