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Fishing Spear Points

Nez Perce National Historical Park, National Park Service

Nez Perce National Historical Park, National Park Service

When the seasonal salmon and steelhead runs came up the Columbia, Snake, and Clearwater River drainages, the men devoted their time to fishing. Many different techniques are used to this day including the use of spears. The point on the left is made from iron, the one on the right from deer antler and each of them have two tangs. Even as metal became available in the nineteenth century, use of local materials continued and the design of the point did not change. Kamaix (Indian hemp or Apocynum cannabinum) is woven around the points and forms the line. The dark spots on the antler point are the remains of balsam pitch that reduces wear and tear on the line. The spear point is attached to a pole with slack given for the hemp rope. Once the fish was speared, the excess line insured that the struggling fish would not get away or break the pole.

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