Chris Arnett, a fourth-generation British Columbian and a member of the Ngai Tahu, a New Zealand Maori tribe, has had a life-long interest in the history of B.C. and New Zealand. Arnett has researched the archeology of the Stein River Valley for the 'Nlaka'pamux Nation Development Corporation and worked for the Sooke Region Museum and Archives on a historical survey of logging on Vancouver Island's Southwest Coast. He has also taught First Nations studies at Malaspina College. He wrote The Terror of the Coast, a reconstruction of events surrounding the 1863 attack on Kuper Island Indian village by the British naval gunboat Forward. The book chronicles how the battle influenced Colonial government policies and later eroded Native jurisdiction.

Arnett has also edited the stories collected by Mildred Cryer for for Two Houses Half-Buried in Sand: Oral Traditions of the Hul'qumi'num' Coast Salish of Kuper Island and Vancouver Island (Talonbooks 2007). Raised in the Shawnigan area of Vancouver Island, near Chemainus, by her very English parents Mr. and Mrs. Richmond Beauchamp Halhed, Beryl Mildred Cryer was born Beryl Mildred Halhed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1889. She married local businessman William Claude Cryer and they had one child. During the Depression, at the request of the managing editor of the Daily Colonist newspaper in Victoria, she collected Coast Salish stories from Hul'q'umi'num elders such as Mary Rice and Joe and Jennie Wyse for a series of 60 articles that appeared in the Sunday Magazine supplement. Although she was not trained as a journalist or anthropologist, Cryer was careful to keep track of the sources of the narratives, enabling ethnographers who came afterwards to trace their origins and better understand their meanings. In the 1930s she also co-wrote an article with Jennie Wyse (Tstass-Aya) for the Daily Colonist about a battle between the Snunéymuxw of Gabriola Island and the Lekwiltok from a century before. In addition, she recorded memories of the Douglas Treaty from Joe Wyse [Quen-Es-Then), as interpreted by his wife Jennie Wyse, and published his account in the Victoria Colonist. Her associations with the Coast Salish led to the publication of her book slanted towards children called The Flying Canoe: Legends of the Cowichans (Victoria: J. Parker Buckle Printing, 1949). She died in Welland, Ontario, in 1980.

Toward the end of the last century, They Write Their Dream on the Rock Forever (Talon $24.95) became part of the cultural weaponry used to defend the integrity of the Stein Valley from massive resource-extraction. The valley is much cherished by the Lil'wat and Nlaka'apmux First Nations and by all who enjoy the outdoors. Some five years ago, at a conference of young native culture workers from around B.C., convened by the Nlaka'apmux First Nation at Lytton, people expressed continued interest in this volume. The original edition was created by the late Nlaka'apmux elder Annie York, anthropologist Richard Daly and Chris Arnett. Talonboooks released an updated version in paperback and eBook versions. The new edition preserves the vibrant life knowledge and worldview of Annie York and also presents new, up-to-date research on Stein Valley rock art, and more generally on rock art in B.C.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Two Houses Half-Buried in Sand: Oral Traditions of the Hul'q'umi'num Coast Salish of Kuper Island and Vancouver Island


They Write Their Dreams on the Rock Forever: Rock Writings of the Stein River Valley of British Columbia (Talonbooks, 1993/2019) [Co-authored with Richard Daly and the late Annie York]. New paperback edition (Talonbooks 2019) $24.95 978-1-77201-220-0
The Terror of the Coast: The 1863 Colonial War on the East Coast of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands (Talonbooks, 1999)
Beryl Mildred Cryer. Two Houses Half-Buried in Sand: Oral Traditions of the Hul'qumi'num' Coast Salish of Kuper Island and Vancouver Island (Talonbooks 2007). Edited by Chris Arnett. 978-0-88922-555-8 $24.95

[BCBW 2020] "First Nations" "Anthropology"