BIRCHWATER, Sage




Author Tags: Cariboo, Essentials 2010, First Nations, Local History, Women

QUICK REFERENCE ENTRY:

Sage Birchwater deserves a medal, maybe the Order of Canada. Nobody else in B.C. has so dauntlessly served the people of a particular region--in this case the Cariboo-Chilcotin--with such avid, social serving, literary loyalty, helping so many people tell their stories, or telling their stories for them.

As a long-time resident of the Chilcotin, Sage Birchwater has written several books about the area including Chiwid (New Star, 1995), the second volume in the Transmontanus series edited by Terry Glavin. Born in Victoria in 1948, Birchwater was involved with Cool Aid in Victoria, travelled throughout North America and has worked as a trapper, photographer, environmentalist educator and an oral history researcher. Sage Birchwater continues to make an enormous literary contribution to the Cariboo and Chilcotin, having served as the Chilcotin correspondent for two local papers for 14 years while raising his family south of Tatla Lake. He has also lived in Taklayoko, where he was a freelance writer and editor, and later Williams Lake where he was a staff writer for the Williams Lake Tribune until his retirement in March of 2009. His other books include Ulkatchot’en: The People of Ulkatcho (Ulkatcho: Cultural Curriculum Development Committee, 1991); Ulkatcho Stories of the Grease Trail: Anahim Lake Bella Coola, Quesnel Anahim Lake, B.C. (Ulkatcho Cultural Curriculum Development Committee, 1993); Ulkatcho Food + Medicine Plants (Ulkatcho Publishing, 1996); Williams Lake: Gateway to the Cariboo Chilcotin (2005). With photographer Stan Navratil; Gumption & Grit: Extraordinary Women of the Cariboo Chilcotin (Caitlin 2009). Editor, with Gloria Atamanenko, Pam Mahon and Karen Thompson; Double or Nothing: The Flying Fur Buyer of Anahim Lake (Caitlin 2010) with D'Arcy Christensen; The Legendary Betty Frank (Caitlin 2011), Fly over the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast (2012) with Chris Harris and Corky Williams: Cowboy Poet of the Cariboo Chilcotin (Caitlin 2013) and Chilcotin Chronicles (Caitlin 2017).

There are several superb books about aboriginal women. The Days of Augusta (1973) came first, a tribute to the hard life of Mary Augusta Tappage, born at Soda Creek in 1888, followed by During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, A Haida Woman (1982). Carrier woman Mary John’s memoir, Stoney Creek Woman (1989), co-written with Prince George social worker Bridget Moran, was for many years the bestselling title from Arsenal Pulp Press. Published more than 50 years after her death, Mourning Dove: A Salishan Autobiography (1990), recalls the ground-breaking literary achievements of American-born Okanagan writer Mourning Dove. Shirley Sterling retold her experiences in the Kamloops Residential School for a children’s book, My Name is Seepeetza (1992). The first autobiographical portrayal of a Kwakwaka’wakw matriarch, Paddling to Where I Stand (2004), recalls the life and times of storyteller Agnes Alfred.

But the most memorable portrait is the shortest, Chiwid (1995), by Cariboo journalist Sage Birchwater, in which he profiles the Tsilhqot’in woman who lived outdoors for most of her adult life.

Chiwid (also Chee-Wit, or “Chickadee”) was widely known as a crack shot who moved her solitary campsite according to the seasons, protected only by a tarp. Rumoured to have spiritual powers, she was born as Lily Skinner, daughter of deaf and mute Luzep, a Tsilhqot’in from Redstone, and Charley Skinner, a white settler in the Tatlayoko–Eagle Lake area.

Chiwid married Alex Jack and they had two daughters, but her life changed irrevocably when her husband beat her mercilessly with a heavy chain. Remorseful, Chiwid’s husband drove several head of cattle to Chezacut and sold them to Charlie Mulvahill to raise money to send his beautiful wife to Vancouver for treatment, but thereafter Chiwid left her husband in order to roam the Chilcotin, from Anahim Lake to Riske Creek, sometimes with an old horse and a dog. Many people tried to assist her, offering firewood, food or clothes, which she gratefully accepted, but Chiwid maintained her independence, fearing she would become sick if she remained too long indoors. Ill, aged and going blind, Chiwid eventually consented to spend her final years in the Stoney Creek Reserve home of Katie Quilt, where she died in 1986.

FULL ENTRY:

As a long-time resident of the Chilcotin, Sage Birchwater has written several books about the area including Chiwid (New Star, 1995), the second volume in the Transmontanus series edited by Terry Glavin.

Chiwid (pronounced Chee-weet or Chee-Wit) was a Chilcotin woman who kept to herself and lived entirely outdoors in the Chilcotin Plateau during much of her life. A crack shot, Chee-Wit, or 'Chickadee', was sometimes rumoured to have spiritual powers. With only a tarp for protection, she moved her solitary camp according to the seasons. Born as Lily Skinner, she was the daughter of Luzep, a Chilcotin deaf mute from Redstone, and Charley Skinner, a white settler in the Tatlayoko-Eagle Lake area. She married Alex Jack and they had three daughters, but he once beat his beautiful wife mercilessly with a heavy chain. Remorseful, her husband drove several head of cattle to Chezacut and sold them to Charlie Mulvahill to raise money to send his wife to Vancouver for treatment, but thereafter Chee-Wit left her husband in order to roam the Chilcotin from Anahim Lake to Riske Creek, sometimes with an old horse and a dog. Many people in the Chilcotin tried to assist her, offering firewood, food or clothes, but Chee-Wit maintained her independence and feared becoming sick if she remained too long indoors. Ill, aged and blind, she spent her final years in the Stone Creek Reserve home of Katie Quilt where she died in 1986. Birchwater's book about her largely consists of reminiscences by Chilcotin oldtimers.

Born on September 27, 1948 in Victoria, Birchwater was raised with a different name. [See Christine Peters entry]. A former self-described hippie, he was involved with Cool Aid in Victoria and he has travelled throughout North America. Birchwater has also worked as a trapper, photographer, environmentalist educator and an oral history researcher. He took over the trapline of Bert Hamm in the West Chilcotin and lived and trapped martens and squirrels for many years with his partner, Yarrow (Christine Peters, a self-published author). He once remarked that they were likely the closest inhabitants to Mount Waddington, B.C.'s highest peak in the Coast Mountains.

Sage Birchwater continues to make an enormous literary contribution to the Cariboo and Chilcotin, having served as the Chilcotin correspondent for two local papers for 14 years while raising his family south of Tatla Lake. He has also lived in Taklayoko, where he was a freelance writer and editor, and later Williams Lake where he was a staff writer for the Williams Lake Tribune until his retirement in March of 2009.

And there was the time a rancher was driving his D9 Cat down the highway and he passed out, drunk, and fell off… As recalled in Corky Williams: Cowboy Poet of the Cariboo Chilcotin (Caitlin $24.95), the rancher came to his senses and followed the track on the road to find his rig. Not sure of the direction his bulldozer was heading, he asked a passing tourist if he’d seen his Cat. She asked what colour it was. Trying to help, she started calling, “Kitty, Kitty!”

It just one of hundreds of tales that Sage Birchwater has diligently collected from the Texan émigré Corky Williams who came to the Chilcotin in 1971, buying the Corkscrew Creek Ranch near Anahim Lake. Not your average redneck, Corky Williams liked the counter-culture kids and had a background in theatre.

A near fatal outhouse accident at the Anahim Lake Stampede in 1985—when he was sober—required an emergency flight to Williams Lake, then onto x-rays in Kamloops. “The doctor showed me the x-rays and the shoulder blade looked like you’d hit with an axe.” Unable to ranch, Williams met Ian Tyson at the Chilcotin Inn for an audition that same year.

When storyteller and songwriter Ian Tyson mounted twenty-sold out performances of his Cowboyography show at Expo 86, Corky Williams was prominent in the cast. The rancher-turned-thespian soon got an agent and appeared in tv shows such as The Beachcombers and Bordertown. Williams enjoyed an impressive career as a touring stage actor in the U.S., based out of Texas for fifteen years, until the Chilcotin called him home.

“I just had a wild hair up my ass to get up and come back to Canada,” Corky says. After tracking down the invaluable and ubiquitous local historian Sage Birchwater, the “cowboy poet” Williams commenced an extensive memoir. It includes first-hand input, gathered by Birchwater, from Anahim Lake notables such as Bob Cohen, Big Fred Elkins, Bernie “Burnt Biscuit” Wiersbitzky, Mike Holte, Ollie Moody, Mike McDonough, Susan Hance, Bella Leon and George Leon.

And then there was the time Big Fred suggested they should blow up some of the beaver dams and sandbars in Corkscrew Creek. The old dynamiter Morton Casperson set a three-minute fuse, which gave everyone time to retreat, but Morton’s mutt refused to follow. They kept calling the dog, to no avail. Corky was certain he was headed for the big doghouse in the sky. Boom. “Well, would you look at that,” said Big Fred. “That dog is going as fast as I have ever seen one run. The only thing is, he can’t get any traction ’cause he’s twelve feet off the ground.” Miraculously, the dog survived the blast but didn’t come home for five days.

For Sage Birchwater's Chilcotin Chronicles (Caitlin 2017), he says "The people and stories of the Chilcotin are linked together like the mycelial threads of a mushroom colony." The individuals who inhabited the sparsely-populated broad landscape, stretching 450 km from the Fraser River to the Central Coast, were seemingly all larger than life. Stories of their whereabouts and happenings were kept alive by the great oral tradition of this place, told around campfires and kitchen tables. "Some of these tales were true," Birchwater says, "and some were blatantly fictitious; and through it all runs a deep sense of place." His collected stories from the leeward side of the Coast Mountains include characters such as Eagle Lake Henry, Bullshit Valleau, Pete McCormick, James Lee Holt, Trapper Annie Nicholson, Benny Franklin, Nancy Swanson, RC Cotton, George Turner (rumoured to be a member of the notorious Dalton Gang) and his wife Louisa One-Eye.

BOOKS:

Birchwater, Sage. Ulkatchot’en: The People of Ulkatcho (Ulkatcho: Cultural Curriculum Development Committee, 1991).
Birchwater, Sage. Ulkatcho Stories of the Grease Trail: Anahim Lake Bella Coola, Quesnel Anahim Lake, B.C. (Ulkatcho Cultural Curriculum Development Committee, 1993).
Birchwater, Sage. Chiwid (Transmontanus 2, New Star Books, 1995).
Birchwater, Sage. Ulkatcho Food + Medicine Plants (Ulkatcho Publishing, 1996).
Birchwater Sage. Williams Lake: Gateway to the Cariboo Chilcotin (2005). With photographer Stan Navratil
Birchwater, Sage. Gumption & Grit: Extraordinary Women of the Cariboo Chilcotin (Caitlin 2009). Editor, with Gloria Atamanenko, Pam Mahon and Karen Thompson
Double or Nothing: The Flying Fur Buyer of Anahim Lake (Caitlin 2010) with D'Arcy Christensen
Corky Williams: Cowboy Poet of the Cariboo Chilcotin (Caitlin 2013). $24.95 978-1-927575-18-5
Chilcotin Chronicles (Caitlin 2017)

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
The Legendary Betty Frank: The Cariboo's Alpine Queen
Flyover: British Columbia's Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. An Aviation Legacy

[BCBW 2013] "Indianology"

Gumption & Grit: Women of the Cariboo Chilcotin (Caitlin $24.95)
Excerpt


from Gerry Bracewell

Edited by Sage Birchwater, the life stories of thirty-seven women in Gumption & Grit: Women of the Cariboo Chilcotin (Caitlin $24.95), are an eye-opener to conditions that were long considered ‘normal’ in decades when a horse was often the only mode of transport.

Here follows an edited excerpt from one memoir by Gerry Bracewell, born in Half-Way Lake, Alberta in 1922.

From 1950 onwards, when she wasn’t guiding, she was a fully capable rancher, building cabins, roping, branding and castrating calves alone in the range corral.

She broke her own horses, built a twenty-four-room log lodge and found time for motherhood, raising four sons.

My first birthing experience turned out to be impossible. It was January, so the stage had quit running. There were no snow ploughs. We had only our team and sleigh to get me thirty-seven kilometres out to Tatla Lake where I was to meet with a doctor. A neighbour had ridden on horseback to the only phone, a party line, relayed halfway to Williams Lake by Alexis Creek, to get a doctor for me. The doctor had to come with Bill Sharp, the village police officer in Williams Lake, by car, often shovelling through drifts along the 230 kilometres of Chilcotin Road.

When one of our team became exhausted from pulling the sleigh through eighteen inches of snow, Mr. Moore (the grandpa-to-be), borrowed a neighbour’s horse. Our other horse, a mean-spirited ex-rodeo bronc named Blackoby, after Mr. Moore’s banker, soldiered on. He won much praise from all of us. We arrived at sundown in Tatla Lake ahead of the doctor.

The hospitable Graham family put me into the master bedroom off the kitchen. I lapsed into sleep several times, finally aroused by much hustle and bustle when the doctor arrived. He was washing his hands at the bedroom sink. They had forgotten the rubber gloves. A washcloth was draped over my face and ether poured onto it. I zonked out.

A wild dream, all in technicolour, took over…. Then I heard a baby cry.
I was awakened to see a light bulb spinning crazily overhead. As it slowed and steadied, I saw Dr. Mackenzie splinting my baby’s leg. My son was delivered alive after seventy-four hours of hopeless labour. His right femur had to be broken mid-thigh to deliver him feet-first. It was a partial breach.

Hodgson’s stage wasn’t due to come through for two weeks. Within two days I developed a devastating fever with chills, which I fought with every fibre of my being. These were the days before antibiotics. I couldn’t die now, I had a baby to care for. Every day my baby’s splints worked down and had to be reset by the wonderful Graham family.

Hodgson’s stage finally arrived and took me into the Williams Lake Hospital. My baby was admitted, but not me.

Dr. Pump was the only resident doctor, but he was a good one. He re-broke my baby’s leg, taped small square blocks onto the soles of his feet and screwed cup hooks into the blocks. Long strings were fastened to the hooks, with the other ends holding weights dangling off the end of the crib. The baby lay on his back with both feet up at a right angle to his body. In a month I would be allowed to take him home.

Hodgson’s stage returned us to Tatla Lake, where our team, sleigh, and a driver awaited us. It was a long, cold thirty-seven kilometres, mostly in the dark, on February 24, 1944. Within a mile of the ranch, we had to abandon the sleigh and my box of apples because the road was too icy for the horses. The teamster took them up onto brushy hillsides to find safe footing. I carried my baby in the freezing dark over that icy road, praying that we would not fall. The lamp in the window was a halo of gold. Grandpa Moore was waiting up for us. He lovingly accepted his grandson from my weary arms.

The war soon ended. My husband returned to ranching and a baby brother for Marty was born in June. But this idyllic family life was not to be. Interference separated us. My husband left to aid his mother with her ranch, and she found him another soul mate. Eventually he filed for divorce….
Grandpa was a Class A guide, which permitted him to take hunting clients after whatever big game was in season. Whenever I could find a neighbour lady to watch over my boys for the day, I’d go along to learn the business….

Grandpa had apprenticed as a guide outfitter with Ralph Edwards of Lonesome Lake. With spring bear hunting and fall moose, mule deer, and bear hunting, he needed an assistant guide…. One day Grandpa Moore asked, “So how about it? I want to quit.”

Advertising consisted of writing thousands of letters. There were no phones back then…. Thinking I was on the right track, I put an expensive ad into Outdoor Life magazine, and received a dozen letters from US hunters. The letters I typed and mailed listed animals available, dates, rates, maps, and a list of suggested clothing. I also stated that I was a woman guide outfitter. Bad idea. Not one answered. From then on, letters to Gerry Bracewell were addressed to me, “Dear Sir.”

On arrival, my guests accepted the fact that their guide outfitter was a woman…. After five years of me learning the business, Grandpa said, “You can take over. I’m retiring.”

978-1894759373

[BCBW 2010]


Corky Williams: Cowboy Poet of the Cariboo Chilcotin
Article (2014)


from BCBW 2014
And then there was the time a rancher was driving his D9 Caterpillar down the highway and he passed out, drunk, and fell off…

As recalled in Corky Williams: Cowboy Poet of the Cariboo Chilcotin (Caitlin $24.95), the rancher came to his senses and followed the Cat track on the road to find his rig. Not sure of the direction his bulldozer was heading, he asked a passing tourist if he’d seen his Cat. She asked what colour it was. Trying to help, she started calling, “Kitty, Kitty!”

It’s just one of hundreds of tales that Sage Birchwater has diligently collected from the Texan émigré Luther ‘Corky’ Williams who came to the Chilcotin in 1971, buying the Corkscrew Creek Ranch near Anahim Lake. Not your average redneck, Corky Williams liked the counter-culture kids and had a background in theatre.

A near fatal outhouse accident at the Anahim Lake Stampede in 1985—when Corky was sober—required an emergency flight to Williams Lake, then onto x-rays in Kamloops. “The doctor showed me the x-rays and the shoulder blade looked like you’d hit it with an axe,” he says. Unable to ranch, Williams met Ian Tyson at the Chilcotin Inn for an audition that same year.

When storyteller and songwriter Ian Tyson mounted twenty-one sold out performances of his Cowboyography show at Expo 86, Corky Williams was prominent in the cast. The rancher-turned-thespian soon got an agent and appeared in tv shows such as The Beachcombers and Bordertown. Williams enjoyed an impressive career as a touring stage actor in the U.S., based out of Texas for fifteen years, until the Chilcotin called him home in 2007.

“I just had a wild hair up my ass to get up and come back to Canada,” Corky says.
After tracking down the ubiquitous local historian Sage Birchwater, the “cowboy poet” Williams commenced an extensive memoir. It includes first-hand input, gathered by Birchwater, from Anahim Lake notables such as Bob Cohen, Big Fred Elkins, Bernie “Burnt Biscuit” Wiersbitzky, Mike Holte, Ollie Moody, Mike McDonough, Susan Hance, Bella Leon and George Leon.

And then there was the time Big Fred suggested they should blow up some of the beaver dams and sandbars in Corkscrew Creek… The old dynamiter Morton Casperson set a three-minute fuse, which gave everyone time to retreat, but Morton’s mutt refused to follow. They kept calling the dog, to no avail. Corky was certain he was headed for the big doghouse in the sky. Boom. “Well, would you look at that,” said Big Fred. “That dog is going as fast as I have ever seen one run. The only thing is, he can’t get any traction ’cause he’s twelve feet off the ground.” The dog survived the blast but didn’t come home for five days. 978-1-927575-18-5


Chilcotin Chronicles: Stories of Adventure and Intrigue from British Columbia’s Central Interior
Review 2017



Reviewed by Lorraine Weir

*

Sage Birchwater credits playwright Gwen Pharis Ringwood with urging him to keep a record of his travels on the Chilcotin Plateau – a record that, ultimately, resulted in Birchwater’s Chilcotin Chronicles: Stories of Adventure and Intrigue from British Columbia’s Central Interior. In an email of July 2017 from Lumby, B.C., where he has been evacuated due to forest fires in Williams Lake, Sage clarified his memories of Ringwood:

I met Gwen Pharis Ringwood in Williams Lake after I showed up there in 1973. Gwen was a well-known Canadian playwright who had been in the Williams Lake and Cariboo area for more than twenty years by that time.

Gwen was a leading light in the arts community in Williams Lake. An outdoor theatre was named after her in Boitanio Park and a number of her plays had been performed across the country.

I’d been in Williams Lake about four years when Gwen gave a writing workshop at her place on Chimney Lake where she and her retired MD husband, Barney Ringwood, lived.

It was at this workshop in 1977, a month or two before I took everything I owned and headed west to the Chilcotin to get lost in the wilderness, that Gwen offered this advice.

The result, notes reviewer Lorraine Weir, is a book that stresses the common ground between settlers and Indigenous people. – Ed.

*

When he was about to leave Williams Lake for “the Chilcotin wilderness” as a young man, Sage Birchwater was advised by playwright Gwen Pharis Ringwood to “keep a record.” He describes his latest book, Chilcotin Chronicles, as an attempt to do just that. He writes that it’s a “book of stories, anecdotes and photographs of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast” and acknowledges the publishers of the Stew Magazine in Williams Lake, where many of the stories first appeared in print.

The volume is comprised of thirty stories and anecdotes that are framed by four “Contact” narratives and an Afterword, together with an account of reconciliation in relation to the Chinlac massacre, plus a comprehensive and useful list of Timelines. The book is copiously and often beautifully illustrated. In addition to his own photographs, Birchwater includes a generous selection of archival photographs including portraits by Frank Swannell, Cliff Kopas, and a superb photograph of Old George Turner by Al Elsey.

An accomplished journalist, editor, and author of nine other books including his classic, Chiwid (New Star, 1995), Birchwater is a master of popular history and one of a small group of writers like Paul St. Pierre, Chris Czajkowski, and Irene Stangoe to focus on the Cariboo Chilcotin region of B.C.

For Birchwater, this vast area extends past the Chilcotin plateau, down the old Nuxalk-Dakelh grease trail to Bella Coola and includes the familial interconnections among Nuxalk, Dakelh, and Tsilhqot’in peoples as well as the settler histories of the same regions. For more recent settlers, this was the “frontier.”

The vast geographical and historical scope of Chilcotin Chronicles, together with Birchwater’s acute ear for stories, are prominent features of this book. Along the way, Birchwater captures the complexity of larger-than-life figures like Bullshit Valleau whose “disagreeable nature” and criminal shenanigans made him notorious in the West Branch Valley in the 1920s and 30s.

Back-to-back with a lively account of Valleau, who was said to have been “dead against Indians,” is what is perhaps the best chapter in this book of many contrasts, the story of Eagle Lake Henry, a Tsilhqot’in man who is still spoken of today with great respect. Birchwater contextualizes this story within what he calls “the sharp divide that separated the Indigenous and settler realities in the Cariboo Chilcotin,” which was intensified as settlers arrived with homesteading grants and asserted property rights to Indigenous land. Determined not to lose his land, Eagle Lake Henry opted, in the language of the time, for his “white rights,” giving up his Indian status so he could buy crown land and provide security for his family at Henry’s Crossing, as it’s still known today.

Stressing that Eagle Lake Henry was no less Tsilhqot’in for having given up his status, Birchwater rightly celebrates his subject’s ingenuity and business sense. However, while Birchwater inflects the phrase “white rights” with irony, he doesn’t problematize the racism that is explicit in the phrase and in the process that Eagle Lake Henry felt compelled to choose in order to protect his own land from settlers.

Preferring the steady, reliable voice of the narrator/chronicler, Birchwater stresses the common ground between settlers and Indigenous people rather than elaborating on the power-imbalanced, still-colonial relations between them.

Birchwater’s Chiwid takes a different approach. Interviews with more than eighty people were transcribed, excerpted, and organized into a narrative that evokes the life of Chiwid while preserving the jaggedness and particularity of each speaker’s voice and story. Headnotes in bold precede each excerpt, but otherwise each voice speaks for itself and is identified by name, articulating one facet of what becomes the composite narrative of Chiwid through many voices and perspectives.

Arguably, this approach to doing oral history is truer to the jagged history of Indigenous peoples surviving colonization. By avoiding the construction of a dominant narrative to unify the whole book, Birchwater preserved the contradictions and idiosyncrasies that characterize the results of large-scale interviewing, highlighting the cultural conflicts which impacted Chiwid’s life so deeply. In its unresolved jaggedness, brilliant rendering of Chilcotin English, and careful attention to detail, Chiwid was a breakthrough in the oral history of this region.

The comparison of two very different books by the same author, both of which are described as oral history, inevitably raises questions that might not otherwise present themselves. The uneven, fractal quality of Chiwid heightens the reader’s awareness of the single reliable narrator of all of Chilcotin Chronicles and reminds us of the functionality of that narrator in a journalistic context and of the riskiness of poetic inconclusiveness for many readers.

These are two different approaches to history, let alone oral history. As Birchwater recently described Chilcotin Chronicles in an interview, it is “a history told with Indigenous people sitting at the table.” In contrast, Chiwid’s modest byline, “collected by Sage Birchwater,” points to the pluralities and contrarieties of many “reminiscences.” However, it would be a mistake to allow the stylistic differences between these two books to blur their common commitment to “a story about the transformation of a country, the clash and integration of cultures, and the strength of individuals,” as the introduction to Chiwid puts it.

Reminiscent of the nostalgia conjured by Terry Glavin’s Nemiah: The Unconquered Country (New Star, 1992), this passage asserts transformation and integration where some might see violence and oppression, and a singular story where some might see not just a clash but a war, followed ultimately by a quarter century of legal action to restore Tsilhqot’in rights and title to Tsilhqot’in land. Clearly, the difference here is not just stylistic or tonal but political.

Reconciliation raises similar issues. As Justice (now Senator) Murray Sinclair says, it took five hundred years to get us here and it will take five hundred years to get us out of this mess. Although two hundred years would be a more optimistic assessment in terms of the history of colonization and the Chilcotin, reconciliation will not be accomplished quickly and Indigenous peoples may choose, as it were, different tables.

Each story is part of the process and Sage Birchwater has my gratitude for taking good care of so many stories over the years.

*

Lorraine Weir is working on an oral history of the Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal title and rights case with Chief Roger William (Xeni Gwet’in). She teaches Indigenous Studies at UBC Vancouver and is a professor in the English Department there.

ORMSBY REVIEW 2017

The Ormsby Review. More Readers. More Reviews. More Often.