Book: C. Smythe, Doing Battle with the Halibut People

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Doing Battle with the Halibut People: The Tlingit, Haida, & Tsimshian Halibut Hook is the most comprehensive book ever published on traditional northern Northwest Coast halibut hooks, known as náxw in Tlingit. Written by Chuck Smythe, Ph.D., and published through Sealaska Heritage's Box of Knowledge series, the book delves deeply into the ingenious engineering, use of, and spiritual dimensions of the hooks as relayed by expert Native fishermen and members of the institute Council of Traditional Scholars.

Scientists are only now realizing the genius behind the traditional halibut hook, which was engineered to catch only halibut and to perpetuate the species by targeting only medium-sized fish. In 2018, the Juneau Economic Development Council and the Alaska State Committee for Research (SCoR) inducted the traditional wood halibut hook into the SCoR Alaska Innovators Hall of Fame because it is a sophisticated and innovative piece of technology unlike any other fish hook.

SHI’Box of Knowledge Series consists of essays, reports, and books that the institute considers should be made available as a contribution to studies on Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures, history, and languages. They mabe based on work carried out by researchers working in collaboration with SHI, contributions prepared by external experts, and work by staff.