Candace Wellman to present Researching the “Unknowable” Woman at the 2019 Women Writing the West Conference
October 11 @ 3:45 pm - 4:45 pm
Candace Wellman, author of Peace Weavers: Uniting the Salish Coast Through Cross-Cultural Marriages and Interwoven Lives: Indigenous Mothers of Salish Coast Communities, will speak on Researching the “Unknowable” Woman.
While helping researchers at the Washington State Archives, Wellman discovered that 80-90 percent of all marriages in Whatcom County’s early decades were cross-cultural. The husbands included nearly every community founder and official, yet history authors mentioned only white women as founding mothers. She became determined to illuminate the hidden history surrounding these relationships. Over twenty plus years, and working with nearly some two hundred collaborators, Wellman, an expert in research methods, sociology, history, and genealogy, scrutinized old sources and searched for new ones, particularly legal cases. Focusing on cross-cultural couples, she found evidence that, except in rare cases, local and regional historians stereotyped and ignored the Frontier West’s intermarried women.
Her first book based on that research, Peace Weavers, was awarded the 2018 WILLA Literary Award for Scholarly Non-Fiction by the organization Women Writing the West. Interwoven Lives depicts the lives of four additional Native women who influenced mid-1800s settlement in the Bellingham Bay area, and also details new information about the Pacific Northwest life of future Confederate general George E. Pickett.
Wellman holds undergraduate degrees in sociology from Washington State University and history/secondary education from Western Washington University, and has pursued graduate work in sociology. Born and raised in Washington, the Bellingham resident is a local history consultant and speaks regularly about women’s history and regional settlement.
“Candace Wellman’s years of painstaking research and work with local families have brought to the fore these crucially important histories of Indigenous-settler relations in the far Northwest, and challenge much of the received wisdom about the workings of colonialism in this place.”—Coll Thrush, author, Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place