“Deeply researched, theoretically informed, and beautifully written, “The Sea is My Country” transports readers to an American Indian maritime world”
Philip J. Deloria, author if Playing Indian
“The Sea is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs”
By Joshua L. Reid in 2015
Yale University Press, 2015
Here it is. The first full-scale history of the Makah people of the Pacific Northwest, whose culture and identity are closely bound to the sea. Bright blue book, written by Joshua L. Reid, published in 2015, and seems a real treasure for my maritime library. Ever since I read a few facts about American Indians and their unique worldview, where sea is land and home and safety, while forest and mountains are unknown and dangerous zone, I wanted to know more.
The Sea is My Country will be my blue canoe of mind with paddles of imagination for the journey into their world and history.
“Captured by calling the sea their country, the Makah’s worldview highlights how they conceptualize marine space differently from whites,” writes Joshua L. Reid and calls the idea to divide water from land as “common European geographical conceptualization”, i.e., just one way of looking at the world.
“When Governor Stevens and his treaty commission drew up the boundaries of the Makah reservation, they assumed that the coastline made a natural boundary to the north and west, like some invisible fence that would keep Makahs inside and other Indians and non-Native settlers outside.”
Joshua L. Reid, The Sea is My Country. Ch. 4 “I Want the Sea”
It didn’t work like that for Makahs, of course.
For Makahs marine water is not a boundary separating one country from another, it is a place of connection. “I want the sea. That is my country,” said one of the Makah chiefs. In the Introduction Joshua L. Reid elaborates upon this statement:
“The chief’s words require us to take a marine-oriented approach, a different historical perspective on American Indians and the North American West. Nearly all of these histories problematically end at the coastline, keeping oceans “relegated to the saltwater margins of human history“. .. “The Sea is My Country” presents an alternative borderlands history.”
Joshua L. Reid, The Sea is My Country. Introduction
Born and raised in Washington State, Joshua L. Reid is assistant professor of history and director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, University of Massachusetts, Boston. He himself comes from a Lushootseed Native American tribe, called Snohomish, who reside around the Puget Sound area of Washington, north of Seattle.