When Yukon University instructor Victoria Castillo and some colleagues decided they needed a new resource book for teaching Indigenous history in the territory, they thought it would be a pretty straightforward job.
They had already collected a lot of material and readings to use in some of their classes, and they wanted to pull it all together into an up-to-date “handbook.”
The book is called ECHO: Ethnographic, Cultural and Historical Overview of Yukon’s First Peoples, and it’s now available online to download for free.
It covers a lot of ground — from looking at the landscape and geology of Yukon, to Indigenous origin stories, to land claims and modern-day governance, art and culture.
“It’s a big overview,” Castillo says.
Castillo and co-author Tosh Southwick have been teaching courses on Yukon Indigenous history and culture for years at what’s now Yukon University. A lot of the resource material they’d been using was decades-old, Castillo said, and sometimes the language was “dated.”
“So we wanted to put together something that kind of updated all of these amazing resources that already exist,” Castillo said.
Southwick said the intention in creating the book was to include both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. It was tough sometimes for the co-authors to agree on what to include, she said.
“It was a great process. We didn’t always agree on what we were going to include, but we always got to a good spot and a good end.”
Castillo said one of the most interesting parts for her was interviewing people about some of the ongoing community-based research in Yukon — archeological, anthropological, historical — and including those interviews in the book.
“I think that those really stand out, because you see the relationships that have been built when proper research is done, when community-based research is happening and when people are feeling good about the work that’s being done in the territory,” she said.
Victoria Castillo (@Runner_Victory) and Tosh Southwick share some thoughts on their new book, ECHO: Ethnological, Cultural and Historical overview of Yukon’s First Nations Peoples. What was their intent? pic.twitter.com/U4rCx4riL3
— Yukon University (@YukonUniversity) July 16, 2020
The authors say that because the book exists as an online document, it can be updated and revised often to incorporate new research and new perspectives.
Southwick says the response to the book has already been great.
With files from Jane Sponagle
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Publisher in Arctic Canada putting Inuit-language books online amidst COVID-19 closures, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Walt Disney Animation Studios to release Saami-language version of “Frozen 2”, Eye on the Arctic
Sweden: Can cross-border cooperation decolonize Sami language education?, Eye on the Arctic
United States: American cartoonist says his new book on Canadian Indigenous history helped decolonize part of himself, CBC North