“You Have Harmed Us”: Stories of Violence, Narratives of Hope among the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe

In 2015, the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released a formal report containing hundreds of testimonies documenting the physical, psychological, and epistemological violence inflicted on Indigenous youth in federally funded and church-run residential schools. The TRC is part of a growing body of academic and publicly oriented scholarship that takes a documentary approach to reckoning with historical trauma in North America. By focusing on harm and loss, this sort of damage-centered research unintentionally reinforces unidimensional narratives of Indigenous history and personhood. As Eve Tuck (2009) argues, a desire-based approach grounded in notions of complex personhood offers an alternative framework for grappling with the legacy of settler-colonial violence. In this article, I draw on Tuck's approach to interpret a body of object-based interviews with Port Gamble S'Klallam community members. During these interviews, objects and historic photographs shared with community members elicited stories of interpersonal and structural violence around their experiences with education. Importantly, these materials also evoked stories of refusal, cultural resiliency, and hope. In revealing the complexity of Indigenous experiences with Western-style education, object-based interviews present archaeologists with a holistic method for documenting Indigenous histories in ways that challenge damage-based narratives.