The Whaling People of the West Coast of Vancouver Island and Cape Flattery

Eugene Arima and Alan Hoover


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Eugene Arima and Alan Hoover give an intimate account of the traditional ways in which these coastal First Peoples looked at and understood the world they lived in. They present the activities, technologies and rituals that the Whaling People used to make a living in their complex coastal environments, and their beliefs about the natural and supernatural forces that affected their lives.

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2011, paperback, 272 pages

70 b/w photographs and drawings

ISBN 978-0-7726-6491-4

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The Whaling People live along the west coast of Vancouver Island and Cape Flattery in Washington. They comprise more than 20 First Nations, including the Nuu-chah-nulth (formerly called Nootka), Ditidaht, Pacheedaht and Makah. These socially related peoples enjoyed a highly organized, tradition-based culture for centuries before Europeans arrived. As whaling societies, they had a unique relationship with the sea.

This book celebrates the still-thriving cultures of the Whaling People, who survived the devastating effects of colonial power and influences. It features 12 narratives collected from First Nations elders, each illustrated with original drawings by the celebrated Hesquiaht artist, Tim Paul. The book also includes a history of treaty making in BC, leading up to the recently ratified Maa-nulth Treaty signed by five First Nations of the Whaling People.


About the Authors

Eugene Arima is an ethnologist specializing in Arctic and Northwest Coast culture areas. He has written, edited and contributed to several books on the whaling people. Arima lives in Ottawa, where he recently retired as ethnohistorian for National Historic Parks and Sites, Parks Canada.

Alan Hoover has written widely on the material culture and art of Northwest Coast peoples. He is co-author of the Royal BC Museum books The Legacy (1984) and The Magic Leaves (2002), and the editor of Nuu-chah-nulth Voices, Histories, Objects & Journeys (2000).


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