Monday, October 19, 2009

MyWorld Tuesday ~ Haida Heritage

Haida Gwaii is the land of the Haida. They have lived on these islands since the beginning of time (scientifically documented back at least 10,000 years). At the time of contact with Europeans there were 30,000 Haida on these islands, a hundred years later there were just over 300. Along with their lives, their totem poles and regalia were taken by treasure hunters & museums or cut down and destroyed by church and government officials. Despite the near decimation of their people and culture the Haida are coming back. The heart of their resurgence is the Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay'llnagaay (Kaay means sealion, llnagaay means town). A dream of the Haida for more than twenty years the Centre offically opened last year. It encompasses the Haida Gwaii Museum, the Greeting House(with glass roof), the Eating House, the Performing House, the Bill Reid School of Art and the canoe and carving shed.
There are six house front poles, and one village pole. Traditionally the house front poles told the story of that house and would let a visitor know if they were welcome. There are three types of totems poles, house front poles, mortuary poles (holding the remains of persons of high esteem) and memorial poles(honouring those who had lost their lives by drowning or at war).

The village totem pole.

The Carving and Canoe shed has been a hive of activity over the past year with four canoes and several new totem poles being carved. Carver Marcel Russ works on a commissioned totem pole.
Inside the Centre are some of the repatriated totems that have been returned from around the world, several of them over 200 years old.
Displays share what the pre-contact life of the Haida was like. This is a 3 foot model of a chief in full regalia.
A quiet and peaceful place in the museum to contemplate what it must have been like before we came!
The Bill Reid canoe "Loota" (wave eater) and a fibre glass copy (right) waiting to be launched.
"Loota" Wave Eater
At one point after Bill Reid's death the "Loota" was grounded as it was considered an original piece of art that had to be preserved, however Bill Reed did not carve it be dry docked, he wanted it to be used and so it is...

and if you are in the right place at the right time you can paddle the "Loota" and experience what it was like to travel these waters by canoe, singing and drumming(with paddles) to keep your pace.

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15 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Great post, the canoes and totems are wonderful pieces of artwork. Thanks for sharing your part of the world for the day.

JOE TODD said...

A real step back in time. Great photos and commentary

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Carolyn: Thanks for sharing this neat story of the Haida people and customs, nicely done.

Gaelyn said...

Seems like many Navtive peoples are trying to hang on to their cultures and share them with others. I'm glad. The totems and canoes are such an important part of this. Happy to see the skills carried on.

chrome3d said...

The totems were the most striking stuff for me here. Marcel is doing a fine job.

Lilli & Nevada said...

Oh i love to see totem polls they are so interesting and so much talent put into them..
Thanks for the stop over

Sylvia K said...

What a fantastic post, Carolyn! I had never heard of the Haida people prior to your posts. I find their history sad as with most Native people. Glad to see that so much has been saved. The canoes and totems, all of your photos are absolutely gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing their story/history!

Have a great week!

Sylvia

Stine in Ontario said...

Such a beautiful culture! I love it when I learn something new and this post was full of brand new information for me, such as there are three kinds of totem poles. I had no idea! GREAT post!

Tom said...

I found this a very interesting read... I have not heard of the Haida before so have learned something new..
Thankyou
Tom

Jenn Jilks said...

Beautiful shots. I visited back in 1979, when pregnant with my first child. I guess it is time to go back and see what has changed! Thank you for sharing this world.

Marie Höglund said...

A lovely series of shots :-)

Tammie Lee said...

Thank you for sharing this rich and fantastically artful culture with us. My heart sings to see the beauty these folks are breathing life into!

Lawstude said...

wow. i love the boat/canoe. i would certainly have the time of my life exploring the place.

Arija said...

A wonderful posr. the country I came from also suffered thousands of years of overlordship and raids both from neighbouring countries and those further afield, so i understand what it is when others try to wipe out yur language and your culture.

I am so glad that some of the artefacts are coming back. I love the story-telling totem poles.

Powell River Books said...

I need to come visit some day. It's hard to decide whether a winter trip would be more exciting or a summer one more adventurous. What do you think? - Margy

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