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Guests Never Leave Hungry: The Autobiography of James Sewid, a Kwakiutl Indian

by James Sewid

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In vivid detail he describes his years of intermittent schooling, his entry into life in the fishing industry at the age of ten, his marriage, at thirteen, to a high-ranking Kwakiutl girl, and his life in a remote Indian village before moving to the Reserve. During the early years in Alert Bay, Sewid was torn between validating his chieftainships by giving potlatches, as tradition demanded, and obeying the law which prohibited them. As these laws changed, he became active in reviving Kwakiutl traditions and, in 1955, he was selected by the National Film Board of Canada to portray many of his achievements in a film called No Longer Vanishing. In this book Sewid tells of his work for the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia and of his activities as Chief. He describes developments which he initiated to revive Kwakiutl arts and outlines economic institutions which he created to improve Kwakiutl living standards. His story offers many insights into life in a non-Western society undergoing rapid change and provides an excellent study of an individual who adapted successfully to these changes. James Spradley carefully analyzes Sewid's style of adaptation and concludes with a study of the social and psychological conditions which enabled him to become a leader, innovator, and multicultural individual.… (more)
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In vivid detail he describes his years of intermittent schooling, his entry into life in the fishing industry at the age of ten, his marriage, at thirteen, to a high-ranking Kwakiutl girl, and his life in a remote Indian village before moving to the Reserve. During the early years in Alert Bay, Sewid was torn between validating his chieftainships by giving potlatches, as tradition demanded, and obeying the law which prohibited them. As these laws changed, he became active in reviving Kwakiutl traditions and, in 1955, he was selected by the National Film Board of Canada to portray many of his achievements in a film called No Longer Vanishing. In this book Sewid tells of his work for the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia and of his activities as Chief. He describes developments which he initiated to revive Kwakiutl arts and outlines economic institutions which he created to improve Kwakiutl living standards. His story offers many insights into life in a non-Western society undergoing rapid change and provides an excellent study of an individual who adapted successfully to these changes. James Spradley carefully analyzes Sewid's style of adaptation and concludes with a study of the social and psychological conditions which enabled him to become a leader, innovator, and multicultural individual.

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