In Search of the Hamat’sa: A Tale of Headhunting


2004 / 33 minutes

Directed by
Aaron Glass
Country of production
United States Canada

The Hamat’sa (or “Cannibal Dance”) is the most important—and highly represented ceremony of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) people of British Columbia. This film traces the history of anthropological depictions of the dance and, through the return of archival materials to a First Nations community, presents some of the ways in which diverse attitudes toward this history inform current performances of the Hamat’sa. With a secondary focus on the filmmaker’s fieldwork experience, the film also attends specifically to the ethics of ethnographic representation and to the renegotiation of relationships between anthropologists and their research subjects.

Language and subtitles
English with English Subtitles
North America
Archival material / Museum displays Dance / Theatre / Performance Ritual Informant-researcher relationship Indigenous peoples / First Nations peoples