416 pages, 37 b/w illustrations
For the Makahs, a tribal nation at the most northwestern point of the contiguous United States, a deep relationship with the sea is the locus of personal and group identity. Unlike most other indigenous tribes whose lives are tied to lands, the Makah people have long placed marine space at the center of their culture, finding in their own waters the physical and spiritual resources to support themselves.
The Sea is My Country is the first to explore the history and identity of the Makahs from the arrival of maritime fur-traders in the eighteenth century through the intervening centuries and to the present day. Joshua L. Reid discovers that the "People of the Cape" were far more involved in shaping the maritime economy of the Pacific Northwest than has been understood. He examines Makah attitudes toward borders and boundaries, their efforts to exercise control over their waters and resources as Europeans and Americans arrived, and their embrace of modern opportunities and technology to maintain autonomy and resist assimilation. The author also addresses current environmental debates relating to the tribe's customary whaling and fishing rights and illuminates the efforts of the Makahs to regain control over marine space, preserve their marine-oriented identity, and articulate a traditional future.
"In The Sea Is My Country, Reid reconstructs the Makah coastal world, showing how indigenous people understood, harvested, and defended their ocean, how peoples interacted across shared and contested borderland spaces that were as often cultural as geographic, and how the networks they created changed over time. The story is original, even innovative, and offers new ways of thinking about the sea trade, its participants, and its violence."
– Colin G. Calloway, Dartmouth College
"The Sea Is My Country is a superb tribal history of the Makah, but of equal importance is the way it makes significant contributions to the history of Northwest borderlands and the indigenous peoples of the Pacific. Josh Reid is an eloquent storyteller and compelling writer – this book is a marvelous read."
– David Igler, author of The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush
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Joshua L. Reid is assistant professor of history and director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, University of Massachusetts, Boston. He lives in Quincy, MA.