Indian Fishing

Early Methods on the Northwest Coast

by Hilary Stewart

A comprehensive look into the methods and importance of fishing for the First Nations of the Northwest Coast.

Of the many resources available to the First Nations of the Northwest Coast, the most vital was fish. The people devised ingenious ways of catching the different species of fish, creating a technology vastly different from that of today’s industrial world. With attention to clarity and detail, Hilary Stewart illustrates their hooks, lines, sinkers, lures, floats, clubs, spears, harpoons, nets, traps, rakes and gaffs, showing how these were made and used in over 450remastered drawings and 75 photographs. With material gathered from museum archives, fish camps and coastal village elders, the scope of this classic volume covers everything from how the catch was butchered, cooked, rendered and preserved to the attributes of fish designs on household and ceremonial objects—images that tell of fishing’s importance to the whole culture. The spiritual aspects of fishing are also described—prayers and ceremonies in gratitude and honour to the fish, as well as customs and taboos indicating the people’s respect for this life-giving resource.

An incredibly varied and highly refined assemblage of tools, techniques and knowledge, the culmination of thousands of years of evolutionary development, Indian Fishing is more than a bare account of the technology of fishing; it is about fish and fishing in the total lives of the Northwest Coast people. A classic, thoroughly researched and informative text, it examines fishing techniques of a people who have lived on the coast for over 9,000 years to reveal their complex and rich culture.

Indian Fishing: Early Methods on the Northwest Coast, 40th Anniversary Edition is available in paperback from your favourite bookstore or directly from

ISBN 13: 978-1-77162-185-4
525 b&w illustrations
10 × 9 – 182 pp
CAD$28.95 • USD$28.95


For many years Northwest Coast cultures have exerted a magic appeal to layman and specialist alike. We have been swept off our feet by the potlatch, dazzled by dance and sculpture, lured into...