THE WHALE PEOPLE by Roderick Haig-Brown


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The customs and beliefs of the pre-Columbian people of the Pacific Northwest are dramatized in this story of a Nootka Indian boy who learns and masters the art of the whale hunt and wins the respect of his people. Twelve year old Atlin longed for the day when his father, Chief Nit-gass, would take him on a whaling expedition; it finally comes, and Atlin is both witness to and participant in the skills and excitement of the kill yet he is not exposed to the real risks yet. Winters pass; Atlin takes part in the great festivals and sealing expeditions; and finally at his father's death he assumes chieftainship and performs all the necessary rituals to enhance the whale spirit. Because he has fallen in love with a rival chief's daughter, Atlin must be careful not to offend the leader who depends upon the sea, not the hunt, to bring dead whales to his shore. As he tackles his first whale, Atlin manages to prove his own power while permitting the older chief to save face.... The fascinating rites and customs of these people and their absorbing culture are presented with clarity, although the writing does little to enhance the inherent drama.

Pub Date: March 6th, 1963
Publisher: Morrow