Special BC Studies issue devoted to First Nations

by Gavin Wilson
Staff writer

An interview with First Nations cultural leader Doreen Jensen and an epic poem by the late Charles Lillard are two of the highlights of a special double issue of BC Studies published this month.

With its theme, Native Peoples and Colonialism, the issue continues the journal's tradition of examining aboriginal issues as well as all aspects of British Columbia, past and present.

And by including poems and photographs, it also reflects the editors' desire to expand beyond the conventions of scholarly journals. The journal has previously published many of B.C.'s major poets, including Susan Musgrave, Patrick Lane and Al Purdy.

"It is important to us that BC Studies is accessible," says Jean Barman, the historian and professor of Educational Studies who shares editing duties with Geography Prof. Cole Harris. "We think of it as a journal for serious writing, rather than for exclusively scholarly writing."

Barman is especially excited by the publication of Lillard's poem, "Revenge of the Pebble Town People: A Raid on the Tlingit." One of the last poems he wrote before his death, it is based on the true story of a Haida war party.

The special journal issue also features an interview with Gitxsan cultural leader Doreen Jensen. An artist, curator, writer, teacher and historian, Jensen is a widely recognized representative of First Nations people in B.C. She was awarded an honorary degree by UBC in 1992.

Another article examines the first diary kept by an aboriginal person in this province. It offers tremendous insight into life on the north coast in the early 1860s.

Another looks at the five founding families of Victoria, who were white fur traders and their aboriginal wives. The article is illustrated with 18 rarely seen archival photos.

Other articles look at how the reserve system was set up in B.C. and how aboriginal law is being revived among other topics.

BC Studies is the only scholarly journal devoted to B.C. issues and is one of three major journals, with Pacific Affairs and Canadian Literature, published by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Most major articles about B.C. appear in its pages.

Barman and Harris have been its editors for two and a half years, since replacing History Prof. Allan Smith.

For more information about BC Studies call 822-3727.