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Preserving the Tradition of T'lina Making
U'mista Cultural Centre
Alert Bay , British Columbia


   Each spring, families of
the Kwakwaka蜘akw First
Nation journey to a sacred
place along the coast of
British Columbia known as
Dzawadi, or Knight Inlet, to
follow the age-old tradition
of rendering what is called
t値ina from the oil of the
tiny eulachon fish. The

eulachon is one of 12 species
belonging to the smelt
family. It is a small,
silvery fish, 15 to 20
centimetres long, and
sometimes called candlefish.
   T値ina is a food staple,
a condiment, a highly prized
medicine, and holds great
importance in potlatches as a

symbol of cultural wealth for
Native people all along the
West Coast and into the
Interior of British Columbia.
In Kwakwaka蜘akw society, the
highest honor a chief can
perform is to give away, or
potlatch the t値ina. T値ina
was widely traded throughout
the Pacific Northwest for

thousands of years.
   In this exhibit, you will
see the process of rendering
the eulachon oil. You will be
introduced to three young
boys who made their own
t値ina in the spring of 2002.
It is very important that the
tradition of making t値ina is
passed down to the young

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