Ilhtsel t’áméx te’í:lé kw’els ílh stl’ítl’qelh”: Stó:lō Weavers and Settler Anthropology

Madeline Knickerbocker's presentation “Ilhtsel t’áméx te’í:lé kw’els ílh stl’ítl’qelh”: Stó:lō Weavers and Settler Anthropology in the 1960s” from the Beyond 150: Telling Our Stories Twitter Conference held in August 2017. 

By Madeline Knickerbocker. Follow Madeline on Twitter @maddieknicker

Posted August 24, 2017

1. My  paper is "'Ilhtsel t’áméx te’í:lé kw’els ílh stl’ítl’qelh': Stó:lō Weavers & Settler Anthropology in the 1960s" 

2. I come to this topic as a Xwelítem - a white settler. My family has lived in Coast Salish territories for 3 generations. #Beyond150CA

3. My work follows Indigenous scholars' call to unlearn white narratives & recenter Indigenous ppls in hists of their own lands #Beyond150CA

4. I use oral hist interviews from the 1960s to explore engagements/estrangements b/w Stó:lō weavers & a white settler anthro #Beyond150CA

5. Stó:lō weaving has a long history, & weaving is an important cultural touchstone in Stó:lō & other Coast Salish communities. #Beyond150CA

6. Xwelítem anthro Oliver Wells, following salvage paradigm notions, was fascinated by Stó:lō culture, sought to preserve it. #Beyond150CA

7. During the 1960s, Stó:lō people, incl women weavers, did dozens of interviews with Wells; some became friends (?) with him #Beyond150CA

8. He is often credited as the saviour of Stó:lō weaving. Yet, the interviews show that Stó:lō women maintained this practice. #Beyond150CA

9. In a 1962 interview, Sqewóthelwet (Margaretta Jim) explained to Wells that weaving had always been part of her life. 

10. In her memoirs, Xwelíqwiya (Rena Point Bolton) discusses guiding Wells in the work he did, helping him engage other weavers #Beyond150CA

11. Stó:lō weaving was never extinct ∴ didn’t need a white expert to "revive" it. Instead, I argue, Wells' work popularized it. #Beyond150CA

12. Wells' questions about the practice brought weavers together, and he provided some materials and helped sell weavings. #Beyond150CA

13. Wells' legacy lies not in "saving" weaving, but in the interviews themselves, for their preservation of Stó:lō voices. #Beyond150CA

14. Stó:lō weavers enjoyed the popularity Wells brought them, but they maintained weaving themselves, as their ancestors did. #Beyond150CA

15. Listening to the interviews reminds us to center Indigenous women's voices, and refuse the idea of the white male saviour. #Beyond150CA

If you would like to see the comments and questions shared in response to Madeline Knickerbocker's presentation, please explore the presentation on Twitter. You can follow Madeline Knickerbocker on Twitter @maddieknicker .

You could win a free book!

Sign up for any of our newsletters and be eligible to win one of many book prizes available.

Help keep Canada’s stories strong (and free)

We hope you will help us continue to share fascinating stories about Canada’s past.


We highlight our nation’s diverse past by telling stories that illuminate the people, places, and events that unite us as Canadians, and by making those stories accessible to everyone through our free online content.


Canada’s History is a registered charity that depends on contributions from readers like you to share inspiring and informative stories with students and citizens of all ages — award-winning stories written by Canada’s top historians, authors, journalists, and history enthusiasts.


Any amount helps, or better yet, start a monthly donation today. Your support makes all the difference. Thank you! 

The “Beyond 150: Telling Our Stories” Twitter Conference was presented by Active HistoryUnwritten HistoriesCanada’s History Society, and the Wilson Institute.

The lead organizers were Andrea Eidinger of Unwritten Histories and Krista McCracken of Active History. 

Related to Arts, Culture & Society