Drawing: Nora Dawson, 1960
This type of harpoon was used by Indigenous to fish salmon and eel. In 1634, Father Paul Le Jeune provided an excellent description of this finely crafted tool. One of the names attributed to it by French-speakers was nigogue or nigog, which is a word of Mi’kmaq origin.
This harpoon is an instrument composed of a long pole, two or three fingers thick, at the end of which they [the Montagnais] fasten a piece of pointed iron, which is provided on both sides with two little curved sticks, which almost come together at the end of the iron point. When they strike an eel with this harpoon, they impale it upon the iron, the two pieces of stick yielding by the force of the blow and allowing the eel to enter; then closing of themselves, because they only open through the force of the blow, they prevent the impaled eel from getting away.
Description by Father Paul Le Jeune from the English translation of his 1634 contribution to The Jesuit Relations.