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T'Lina: The Rendering of Wealth

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Every spring the people of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation travel to Knight Inlet on the BC coast for the annual harvest of eulachon, a small fish from which they extract t'lina, an oil which occupies a central place in their traditional culture and economy. Filmmaker Barb Cranmer's family has participated in this ritual for generations. T'lina was traded among the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest for centuries, valued as a food staple and an important ceremonial substance. In a celebratory gesture of thanksgiving, chiefs distribute it at festive potlatches, where dancers carry giant carved ladles of the oil. In recent year, the eulachon's numbers have been depleted though habitat destruction, by industrial logging and overfishing by shrimp draggers, which net eulachon as unwanted by-catch. Combining footage of a contemporary harvest with archival images, Cranmer raises the alarm on the uncertain future facing this vital cultural practice and offers a lively history of a dynamic coastal First Nation.

1999, 50 min 21 s

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