Sealaska Heritage

News_Halibut hook inducted into hall of fame

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Feb. 16, 2018

(JEDC Announcement)

The Juneau Economic Development Council and the Alaska State Committee for Research (SCoR) have announced the traditional wood halibut hook used by the northern Northwest Coast Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian was inducted into the SCoR Alaska Innovators Hall of Fame, along with three other inductees.

SCoR created the program in 2014 to celebrate and honor outstanding individuals who put Alaska on the map as leaders in innovation and who contribute to Alaska’s growing culture of innovation.

The halibut hook was selected because it is a “sophisticated and innovative piece of technology unlike any other fish hook.” Sealaska Heritage Institute will accept the award on behalf of Northwest Coast people.

The institute for years has touted the indigenous genius that went into creating traditional halibut hooks. For example, Northwest Coast people figured out how to engineer the hooks to target medium-size fish. This spared the smaller male and female fish and the largest halibut that were exclusively females, thereby sustaining the species for future generations. And, the technology made it easier to land the smaller halibut in their canoes. Traditional halibut hooks also had a mechanism to flip the fish belly side up when reeling them in—making them more docile and easier to land.

SHI’s new exhibit, which opens in May, will feature traditional halibut hooks and the technology behind them. The institute also is publishing a book on halibut hooks and uses the hooks to teach science and math concepts to Northwest Coast students.

"We are honored to accept this award on behalf of our ancestors whose brilliant and innovative tools helped to sustain our people. We also congratulate the other inductees: Kelly L. Drew, Ph.D.; Patricia S. Holloway, Ph.D.; and Eric A. Swanson, whose innovation has made Alaskans proud,” said SHI President Rosita Worl.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research and advocacy that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116