Figure 1 Publishing

Art + Design / Indigenous Art + Culture

Where the Power Is

Indigenous Perspectives on Northwest Coast Art

Karen Duffek, Bill McLennan, Jordan Wilson. In collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

Awarded City of Vancouver Book Award

Awarded Tom Fairley Award for Excellence in Editing

Finalist for the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize (BC and Yukon Book Prizes)

Where the Power Is: Indigenous Perspectives on Northwest Coast Art brings together contemporary Indigenous knowledge holders with extraordinary works of historical Northwest Coast art that transcend the category of “art” or “artifact” and embody distinct ways of knowing and being in the world.

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“Now we have the immediacy of trying to still figure out what the form and function of each object was and is. Itʼs an emergency, right? Iʼm sure many people are curious and enthusiastic about just simply knowing. Itʼs about actually connecting these things to our social networks again—to people.”

—Skeena Reece (Tsʼmsyen/Gitxsan and Cree)

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Book Description

Where the Power Is: Indigenous Perspectives on Northwest Coast Art is a landmark volume that brings together over eighty contemporary Indigenous knowledge holders with extraordinary works of historical Northwest Coast art, ranging from ancient stone tools to woven baskets to carved masks and poles to silver jewellery. First Nations Elders, artists, scholars, and other community members visited the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia to connect with these objects, learn from the hands of their ancestors, and share their thoughts and insights on how these belongings transcend the category of “art” or “artifact” to embody vital ways of knowing and being in the world. Texts by the authors sketch the provenance of the objects, and, in dialogue with the commentators, engage in critical and necessary conversations around the role of museums that hold such collections.

The voices within are passionate, enlightening, challenging, and humorous. The commentators speak to their personal and family histories that these objects evoke, the connections between tangible and intangible culture, and how this “art” remains part of Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples’ ongoing relationships to their territories and political governance. Accompanied by over 300 contemporary and historical photographs, this is a vivid and powerful document of Indigenous experiences of reconnection, reclamation, and return.

Featuring contributions by:

ʼLiyaaʼmlaxha—Leonard Alexcee, Goldʼm Nitsʼk—Wii Gandoox—Mona Alexcee, Widiimas—Peter Alexcee, Kʼodalagalis—Byron Alfred, Skwiixta—Karen Anderson, Chaudaquock—Vera Asp, Don Bain, Stan Bevan, Jo Billows, Dempsey Bob, Raymond Boisjoly, Naxshageit—Alison Bremner, Wákas—Irene Brown, Tʼaakeit Gʼaayaa—Corey Bulpitt, Vanessa Campbell, Jisgang—Nika Collison, Nalaga—Donna Cranmer, Gloria Cranmer Webster, Joe David, Guud san glans—Robert Davidson, ʼWalas Gwaʼyam—Beau Dick, Idtaawgan—Mervin Dunn, Sharon Fortney, Yéil Ya-Tseen—Nicholas Galanin, qiyəplenəxw—Howard E. Grant, sʔəyəłəq—Larry Grant, taχwtəna:t—Wendy Grant-John, Müsiiʼn—Phil Gray, Tʼuuʼtk—Robin R.R. Gray, Wii Gwinaał—Henry Green, secəlenəxw—Morgan Guerin, Haaʼyuups, KC (Kelsey) Hall, J̌i:ƛʼmɛtəm—Harold Harry, qoqʼwɛssukwt—Katelynn Harry, 7idansuu—James M. Hart, YaʼYa Heit, Kwakwabalasamayi Hamasaka—Alan Hunt, Corrine Hunt, Tłaliłilaʼogwa—Sarah Hunt, Tsēmā Igharas, Pearl Innis, Haʼhl Yee—Doreen Jensen, Kwankwanxwaligi—Robert Joseph, kwəskwestən—James Kew, Gigaemi Kukwits, Peter Morin, Nugwam ʼMaxwiyalidzi—Kʼodi Nelson, ʼTayagilaʼogwa—Marianne Nicolson, Gwiʼmolas—Ryan Nicolson, Jaad Kuujus—Kwaxhiʼlaga—Meghann OʼBrien, Ximiq—Dionne Paul, A-nii-sa-put—Tim Paul, Xwelíqwiya—Rena Point Bolton, Oqwiʼlowgʼwa—Kim Recalma-Clutesi, Skeena Reece, Nʼusi—Ian Reid, Greg A. Robinson, Siʼt Kwuns—Isabel Rorick, Maximus (Max) Savey, Anaht pi ya tuuk—Sheila Savey, Linda Smith, Xsim Ganaaʼw—Laurel Smith Wilson, θəliχwəlwət—Debra Sparrow, səlisəyeʔ—Leona Sparrow, Wedłidi Speck, Marika Echachis Swan, Simʼoogit Gawaakhl of Wilps Luuyaʼas—Norman Tait, Snxakila—Clyde Tallio, Nakkita Trimble, Xˇùsəmdas Waakas—Ted Walkus, Nuuwagawa—Evelyn Walkus Windsor, Hiłamas—William Wasden, Jr., Tsamiianbaan—William White, Tania Willard, Skiljaday—Merle Williams, Gid7ahl-Gudsllaay Lalaxaaygans—Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, Tʼɬaɬbaʼlisameʼ—Tʼɬalis—Mikael (Mike) Willie, Lyle Wilson, Nathan Wilson, and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.



“Offers deep insights and opens doors to ways of thinking about material culture ”
Art in America

14 books we recommend on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Daily Hive

“Where the Power Is: Indigenous Perspectives on Northwest Coast Art” wins 2022 Vancouver Book Award

City of Vancouver, Daily Herald Tribune, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald

BC books for the nonfiction lover on your gift list


““This is an excellent title as it is not just simply a book about historical Northwest Coast art, but a thoughtful compilation from contributors whose knowledge of Indigenous history, culture, and lived experiences reshape our understanding of the complicated and complex history of colonialism, Indigenous art, and a museum situated on the unceded territory of the Musqueam people,” said Allan Cho, one of the judges for the 2022 Vancouver Book Award.”

Calgary Herald

Art Books 2021

Galleries West

On the Coast

CBC On the Coast

Where the Power Is has surely set a new bar for decolonial and collaborative work between museums and Indigenous communities. The combination of gorgeous photos, broad cultural knowledge, and Indigenous languages shared here makes it an invaluable resource on historic Northwest Coast objects and an absolutely essential volume for anyone interested in Northwest Coast art, ethical museum practice, and First Nations studies.”

First American Art

38th annual B.C. and Yukon Book Prizes shortlist announced

Vancouver Sun, Quill and Quire, Calgary Herald

Vancouver Book Award Honours Northwest Coast Art

Galleries West

Beautiful Books Are Important Historical Records of Northwest Coastal Art

Vancouver Sun

Where’s the Power? Vancouver Book Awards

Eminetra Canada


  • Hardcover
  • 10 × 12 inches
  • 372 pages
  • 978-1-77327-051-7
  • $65 CDN / $50 USD
  • October 2021