Tommy Happynook

Tommy Happynook
Assistant Professor

Accepting MA/PhD students

Office: COR B223

PhD University of Victoria

Area of expertise

Nuu chah nulth ways of knowing land, language, knowledge and Identity

My name is hii-ni-naa-sim, my English name is Tommy Happynook. I am Nuu-chah-nulth from the Huu-ay-aht Nations and belong to the House of čaačaaciias through my father. I have Scottish and Irish ancestry through my mother.

My research focuses on my own experience of reconnecting, revitalizing, and restoring my family’s knowledge, presence, and traditional responsibilities in and to our Hahuulhii (traditional territory) čaačaaciias. My research, more broadly seeks to understand the reciprocal relationship between haWiih (Nuu-chah-nulth hereditary leaders), musčum (the people) and Hahuulhii.

The questions that guide my work are:

1) How is the relationship between my family’s traditional knowledge, our connection to čaačaaciias and the revival of our culture understood? 

2) What is the importance of our connections to čaačaaciias in learning language, and how might our learning the language on the land change the way we conceptualize as learners, our worldviews?

3) How can traditional whaling knowledge, that is sacred and secret, inform the development of Indigenous research frameworks, methodology and theory in academia without breaking traditional laws?

4) How can čaačaaciiasaht knowledge inform Huu-ay-aht treaty governance and čaačaaciiasaht self-determination in a contemporary context?


  • Applied Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing
  • Land-based learning and relationships
  • Indigenous (re)connection to traditional territory
  • Nuu-chah-nulth knowledge systems
  • Land, language, and identity
  • The history of colonization in Canada


Fall 2023

  • ANTH 336 Contemporary Indigenous Issues in Canada
  • ANTH 393 Indigenous Ways of Knowing

Spring 2024

  • ANTH 336 Contemporary Indigenous Issues in Canada
  • ANTH 393 Indigenous Health