SFU professor Marianne Ignace (right) and adjunct professor Chief Ron Ignace have written a prize-winning book that is the culmination of 30 years of research.

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Prize-winning book brings 10,000 years of Shuswap First Nation history to life

March 14, 2018
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By Diane Luckow

A new book that details 10,000 years of the Secwépemc (Shuswap) First Nation’s history in B.C., Secwépemc People, Land, and Laws, written by SFU professor Marianne Ignace and adjunct professor Chief Ron Ignace, is attracting major kudos.

Published last fall by McGill-Queen’s University Press, it has received the 2018 Basil Stuart-Stubbs Book Prize, which the UBC Library and the Pacific BookWorld News Society annually award to an outstanding scholarly book on B.C. And BC Book Prizes has shortlisted it for the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize, which recognizes "the book that contributes the most to the enjoyment and understanding of the province of British Columbia.” The winner will be announced on May 4.

Dip into the comprehensive, 588-page book and you’ll learn how the Secwépemc people of B.C.’s South Central Interior have survived and thrived over the past 10,000 years, developing innovative ways to achieve a sustainable livelihood from the land.

The book, says Marianne, is the culmination of the couple’s 30 years of linguistic and anthropological research.

“We set our elders’ stories in dialogue with archival sources from outsiders who came to our land, and with multidisciplinary information from earth science, linguistics, archaeology, ecology and geography,” she says. She and Ron then wove an account of how the Secwépemc people evolved as a nation, both through their emerging Indigenous laws, and through resilience in the face of colonization.

“I think the book definitely speaks to reconciliation,” says Marianne. “I really hope and think that what we’ve written will contribute to the Secwépemc people’s understanding of their ancestors’ profound knowledge and wisdom, and that the non-Indigenous public can learn about and appreciate their amazing knowledge and long history.”

Publishing the book, says Marianne, “has been an adventure for both of us and since it came out last fall we’ve been absolutely thrilled and humbled at how our own elders and community members have embraced it and recognized themselves in it and are enjoying reading it, which is exactly what we wanted.”

The book has also attracted stellar reviews from their academic peers and is being adopted in university curriculums across North America.

“The Stuart-Stubbs prize is a nice recognition,” says Marianne. “The first printing of 1,000 sold out in two months and it’s now in its second printing.”