The Indian History of British Columbia

Wilson Duff


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This classic of anthropology examines the effects of immigrant settlement on the population, economy, culture, government and religion of British Columbia’s First Peoples.

“This book continues to provide a good introduction to, as well as a general overview of, the ethnohistoric First Nations of the province and the effects of Euro-Canadian contact on their traditional lifeways.” – Robin Chatan, The Midden.

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1997, paperback, 192 pages

b/w photographs

ISBN 978-0-7718-9483-1

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First published in 1964, this book has stood the test of time. Now, with more than 20,000 copies in print, The Indian History of BC: The Impact of the White Man remains an important anthropological and historical record up to the 1960s.

Foreword to the New Edition by Martha Black, Curator of Ethnology, Royal BC Museum


In the 50 years since Wilson Duff’s classic study was first published there have been many changes in the way interactions between First Nations and colonial cultures are conceptualized and discussed. The Impact of the White Man is now a historical record in itself: a benchmark for understanding the profound changes that have taken place in our understanding of the topic over half a century. At the same time, it remains a useful compendium of information for researchers, students and the general public.


This edition includes a table of First Nations names with two maps (Appendix 2), added in 1997 to update the terminology of the 1960s. Some of these spellings have changed again and will, no doubt, continue to be modified as First Nations replace colonial usages with indigenous names and spellings.


Duff and the museum intended this to be the first volume in a series, an immense task that we would not presume to undertake today. The histories of First Nations in this region are now being investigated in many media and from a variety of perspectives, most importantly by First Nations people who are changing our understanding of our province’s troubled colonial past.


About the Author

Wilson Duff (1925-76) was curator of anthropology at the BC Provincial Museum (now Royal BC Museum) from 1950 to 1965, when he accepted a teaching position at the University of British Columbia. He became one of the most important anthropologists of his time and published numerous articles and books on First Nations and anthropology in BC.

Edited by Wilson Duff:
Histories, Territories and Laws of the Kitwancool



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