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

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The story of James Sewid, a twentieth-century Kwakiutl Indian Chieftain, brings to life the experience of one man caught in conflict as the traditional Kwakiutl culture gave way to the demands of an expanding Western society in British Columbia. Born in 1910 into a rapidly disintegrating Indian culture, Sewid as a young child received unusually intensive training and special treatment from his elders because he was heir to many "names," which he early learned carried great responsibility with them. In spite of poverty, illiteracy, family breakdown, and social conflict, he emerged as a leader of the progressive Indians of the Kwakiutl Reserve in Alert Bay, becoming their first elected chief when the traditional system of hereditary chiefs was replaced. 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. In recent years, as these laws have changed, he has become 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." Recognized today as a leader by Canadians and Indians alike, Sewid is vice-president of the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia. In this book, he tells of his work for the Brotherhood and of his activities as Chief. He describes recent developments which he has initiated to revive Kwakiutl arts and outlines new economic institutions which he has 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, Mr. 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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