A 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title In People of the
Saltwater, Charles R. Menzies explores the history of an ancient
Tsimshian community, focusing on the people and their enduring
place in the modern world. The Gitxaała Nation has called the
rugged north coast of British Columbia home for millennia, proudly
maintaining its territory and traditional way of life.People of the
Saltwater first outlines the social and political relations that
constitute Gitxaała society. Although these traditionalist
relations have undergone change, they have endured through
colonialism and the emergence of the industrial capitalist economy.
It is of fundamental importance to this society to link its past to
its present in all spheres of life, from its understanding of its
hereditary leaders to the continuance of its ancient ceremonies.
Menzies then turns to a discussion of an economy based on
natural-resource extraction by examining fisheries and their
central importance to the Gitxaałas' cultural roots. Not only do
these fisheries support the Gitxaała Nation economically, they also
serve as a source of distinct cultural identity. Menzies's
firsthand account describes the group's place within cultural
anthropology and the importance of its lifeways, traditions, and
histories in nontraditional society today.