A Stó:lo-Coast Salish Historical Atlas


224 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55054-812-3
DDC 912.711'089979





Edited by Keith Thor Carlson
Reviewed by Roy Wolfe

Roy Wolfe is a former professor of geography at York University.


According to their spiritual leaders, the Stу:lo (River) people have
inhabited the lower reaches of British Columbia’s Fraser River for
15,000 years. It is hard to see the evidence of that, because most of
the more than 130 river and coast settlements the Stу:lo once occupied
there have disappeared. Even worse, the sorry state to which a
once-superabundant resource base has been reduced by the depredations of
the immigrants (Xwelitem) who have dispossessed them now threatens the
River people’s very survival. They want the wrongs done to them
recognized, and this historical atlas exhaustively documents their

It is amazing that so magnificent a work was achieved within a year and
a half by a mere handful of devoted scholars and craftsmen. They
supplemented the riches already available in dust-covered technical
reports with valuable new research, and in the end produced a broadly
accessible record that promises to be of lasting value. Throughout, the
book asks the powerful, rending question that permeates the lives of the
dispossessed everywhere: “How do we get back our dignity?”

All who leaf through the 46 “plates” of this tall, deceptively slim
volume come up with some variation of the word “stunning.” They are
struck by the brilliant color and exquisite detail of the principal
maps, the evocative melancholy of the many historical photographs, and
the funds of information in text, chart, and table on subjects too
diverse even to begin to enumerate.

Not all historical atlases can be recommended for both classroom and
coffee table. This one can—with two minor caveats: there is no guide
to pronunciation (how, for example, does the Halkomelem word
“sthe’qi” become the English word “sockeye”?) and there is no
index. Still, this is proclaimed to be the first historical atlas of its
kind, and as such it sets a very high standard for its successors to
meet. Uprooted societies the world over might well take note.


“A Stó:lo-Coast Salish Historical Atlas,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/7892.