The SWELSWÁLET of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation

Fren Ertle’s illustration of the “Reef-Net Set-up” (D. Elliott 1990:57)

Late-19th Century Reef Net Fishing Locations at SMOKEĆ (Point Roberts) (Suttles 1974:209). Owner of each location can be found in Figure 1. of Fritz' thesis.

Trap Nets and Trap Net Locations at Point Roberts, Washington, Summer, 1895 (Rathbun 1900: Plate 13).

The SWELSWÁLET of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation: narratives of a “nation (re)building process” was a thesis project carried out by Justin Fritz that documents his experience working with members of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation in their efforts to revitalize the reef net fishery. 

Throughout this project, Fritz interviewed W̱SÁNEĆ community members to create a digital map of reef net fishing locations (SWELSWÁLET). In each of these interviews, community members of the W̱SÁNEĆ First Nation chose to frame reef net fishing differently and highlighted specific and unique “alternative political approaches” toward W̱SÁNEĆ cultural resurgence. It was made very clear by each W̱SÁNEĆ community member that they believed reef net fishing is something that “needs to be shared”.

This project explores which aspects W̱SÁNEĆ community members want shared; how delicate the cultural, political, and legal contexts that have made sharing a complicated process; how the BC Treaty Process has exacerbated conflicts among First Nations in British Columbia; and explores Fritz’ misaligned expectations of knowledge sharing in collaborative community-based research, as a white settler man, clashed with “the values and beliefs, practices and customs of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation” (L. Smith 2012:15-16; Lassiter 2005).