WARNING: Spoilers spoken here.
I so wanted it to be the halibut heart because of Megan’s wonderful comment, but the fish wheel came on strong in the end and wiped out the competition. I found lots of video showing fish wheels in action on YouTube.
Fish wheels are common on Alaskan rivers. The fish caught are a primary food source, they’re dog food, they’re sold for the fuel necessary to keep Bush Alaskans warm through the winter. They are subject to wear and tear from the force of the water, chunks of ice during breakup, and deadheads, uprooted trees being pushed downriver, moving fast and hitting hard. (There is also enemy action, as some of you may remember from the Kate Shugak short story, “Cherchez la Femme.”)
The aunties’ problems with the fish hawk are loosely based on the real-life problems of Katie John of Mentasta.
The toughest broad in a state of tough broads, Katie John single-handedly wrestled both state and federal governments to the ground in the matter of Alaska Natives fishing on their historic fishing grounds. Man, just writing those words brings a grin to my face. Read her obituary here.