|Says UBC press:|
Standing Up with Ga'axsta'las is a compelling conversation with the colonial past initiated by the descendants of Kwakwaka'wakw leader and activist, Jane Constance Cook (1870-1951). Working in collaboration, Robertson and Cook's descendants open this history, challenging dominant narratives that misrepresent her motivations for criticizing customary practices and eventually supporting the potlatch ban. Drawing from oral histories, archival materials, and historical and anthropological works, they offer a nuanced portrait of a high-ranked woman who was a cultural mediator; devout Christian; and activist for land claims, fishing and resource rights, and adequate health care. Ga'axsta'las testified at the McKenna-McBride Royal Commission, was the only woman on the executive of the Allied Indian Tribes of BC, and was a fierce advocate for women and children. This powerful meditation on memory documents how the Kwagu'l Gixsam revived their dormant clan to forge a positive social and cultural identity for future generations through feasting and potlatching.