Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Halibut hook

ts’úu táaw “halibut hook”
Language: Haida

When we were children, we used to go over to our aunt’s halibut bank. It wasn’t ours; it belonged to my dad’s family. We would go with my aunt. And if we stepped ashore, our aunt would jump in front of us and she’d say, “You know, when you grow up you can’t come here without our permission.”

—Delores Churchill, 2005

Halibut surpassed every other food in the traditional diet. Individual matrilineages claimed ownership of undersea “banks” (plateaus) where the fish congregate. Early spring halibut fishing brought some of the first fresh food of the year, and people worked to lay in a large supply, the men pulling the fish from the bottom on wooden hooks and the women slicing them into fillets and drying them for storage. On summer trading voyages, the Haida exchanged dried halibut and seaweed to the Tsimshian for eulachon grease and berries. On this halibut hook, a predatory creature is shown capturing a seal.

Culture: Haida
Region: Revillagigedo Island, Southeast Alaska
Village: Ketchikan
Object Category: Fishing
Dimensions: Length 25cm
Accession Date: 1931
Source: Francis B. Sayre (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E379805