Being Cowlitz

How One Tribe Renewed and Sustained Its Identity

Christine Dupres

  • Published: 2014. Paperback June 2016
  • Subject Listing: Native American and Indigenous Studies; History / Western History
  • Bibliographic information: 176 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Without a recognized reservation or homeland, what keeps an Indian tribe together? How can members of the tribe understand their heritage and pass it on to younger generations? For Christine Dupres, a member of the Cowlitz tribe of southwestern Washington State, these questions were personal as well as academic. In Being Cowlitz: How One Tribe Renewed and Sustained Its Identity, what began as the author's search for her own history opened a window into the practices and narratives that sustained her tribe's identity even as its people were scattered over several states. Dupres argues that the best way to understand a tribe is through its stories. From myths and spiritual traditions defining the people's relationship to the land to the more recent history of cultural survival and engagement with the U.S. government, Dupres shows how stories are central to the ongoing process of forming a Cowlitz identity. Through interviews and profiles of political leaders, Dupres reveals the narrative and rhetorical strategies that protect and preserve the memory and culture of the tribe. In the process, she creates a blueprint for cultural preservation that current and future Cowlitz tribal leaders - as well as other indigenous activists - can use to keep tribal memories alive.
Christine Dupres is on the faculty at the American Leadership Forum and owner of Radiant Life Counseling.

"Applies both intellectual rigor and a unique insider-outsider perspective to the thorny question of how the Cowlitz people can reclaim and reassert their tribal identity. Dupres uses personal insights to humanize an abstract problem."
-Andrew H. Fisher, author of Shadow Tribe: The Making of Columbia River Indian Identity

"Being Cowlitz expands our understanding of 'usual and accustomed places' and highlights community persistence in opposition to federal aims."
-Laurie Arnold, author of Bartering with the Bones of Their Dead: The Colville Confederated Tribes and Termination

1. Introduction
2. Cowlitz History
3. Historical Discourse and the Use of Landscape: Genres of Attachment
Image Gallery
4. The Importance of Leaders and Legends
5. The Importance of Personal History Narrative
6. The Importance of Personal History Narrative in Shaping Oral History and Myth