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The Way Home
By (author): David A. Neel
9780774890410 Paperback, Flaps English General Trade SOCIAL SCIENCE / Indigenous Studies Oct 01, 2019
$32.95 CAD
Active 8 x 10 x 0.6 in | 810 gr 200 pages 100 colour photos, 37 b&w photos UBC Press On Point Press
Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, The Writers' Trust of Canada 2020, Short-listed

Crafted from memories, legends, and art, this powerful memoir tells the uplifting story of an Indigenous man’s struggle to reconnect with his culture and walk in the footsteps of his father and the generations of Kwakwa_ka_’wakw artists that came before him.

David Neel was an infant when his father, a traditional Kwakiutl artist, returned to the ancestors, triggering a series of events that would separate David from his homeland and its rich cultural traditions for twenty-five years. When the aspiring photographer saw a mask carved by an ancestor in a Texas museum, the encounter inspired him to return home and follow in his father’s footsteps. Drawing on memory, legend, and his own art, Neel recounts his struggle to reconnect with his culture and become an accomplished Kwakwa_ka_’wakw artist. His memoir is a testament to the strength of the human spirit to overcome great obstacles and to the power and endurance of Indigenous culture and art.

  • This is an inspiring account of an Indigenous man's journey to becoming an artist and, through art, coming back home. Neel tells his story through narrative, traditional legends, and his remarkable art.
  • Neel's story speaks to universal themes of returning to the place you are from to reconnect with who you are. It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit to overcome great obstacles, and the power and endurance of Indigenous culture.
  • This is a positive story about Indigenous lives and culture that will be relatable for Indigenous readers, and revealing for non-Indigenous.
  • David Neel is a prolific artist from a line of greats: his grandmother was the renowned master woodcarver Ellen Neel; his great-uncle is Mungo Martin and his great-grandfather Charles James, all iconic figures of Northwest Coast Native art. Their stories are here too, told from the point of view of the current generation.
  • This is part travelogue, part memoir, and part art book. It pulls together a stunning collection of Neel’s art that will be of interest to art aficionados, it offers an important intervention in our understanding of the many arms of colonization, and it is a compelling, interesting story.

David A. Neel, carver, jeweller, painter, printmaker, writer, and photographer, comes from a family of traditional Kwakwa_ka_’wakw artists, including Dave Neel Sr., Ellen Neel, Mungo Martin, and Charlie James. In addition to apprenticing with carvers in Alert Bay, he received training in writing and photography from the University of Kansas and Mount Royal College in Alberta. He is the author of Our Chiefs and Elders: Words and Photographs of Native Leaders (1992) and The Great Canoes: Reviving a Northwest Coast Tradition (1995). He is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Kwakwa_ka_’wakw traditional art and culture.

"A spellbinding memoir with universal reach … beautifully told and illustrated … Neel's memoir is written with the same calm mastery he brings to all his art. This is a wise, eloquent, and deeply moving book." — 2020 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury (Helen Knott, Sandra Martin, and Ronald Wright)

- Helen Knott, Sandra Martin, and Ronald Wright, Hillary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury

The Way Home is filled with portrait photography that conveys stories that cannot be told by words alone. In this image-filled memoir we are also invited into Neel’s creative journey through his descriptions and photos of his own carved masks and his precious metal jewelry. - Latash-Maurice Nahanee, BCBookLook

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