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DOGFISH

It is a testament of strength and perseverance, which Dogfish is known for, that this crest was highly prized among coastal groups, most significantly the Haida. 

 

Dogfish are a small mud-shark, and to this day are a hindrance to fishermen pursuing Salmon, Halibut and Cod fish – as they are the vermin often responsible for devouring fresh bait, hooks and even severing fishing lines with their asperous skin. Their razor-sharp teeth make them exceptionally tricky to retrieve hooks from, and as they store their urine in their blood stream, and secrete it through their skin, they are not generally kept for consuming.

 

Dogfish were prized for their skin and their bones – the coarse skin served as sandpaper, and their vertebrae bone is thought to have been utilized as a fine saw blade. 

 

Known for perseverance, grace and power, Dogfish remains a powerful crest. Dogfish are generally depicted with a tall forehead, down-turned mouth and protruding, jagged teeth. The distinction between Dogfish and Dogfish Woman is that Dogfish Woman has a nose that resembles a beak, which curls down into her jaw. Her lower lip is often decorated with a labret ornament, typically worn by women. Dogfish Woman was a human female before she was carried away by the Dogfish and transformed into one of their own. Her beak is evidence of her transformation abilities to shift into human form.

SOURCES 

Cheryl Shearar Understanding Northwest Coast Art  (2000)

Campbell River Museum Archives

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