Haida

"Hydah"

The ancestral home of the Haida people is Haida Gwaii, an archipelago off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. “Haida Gwaii” means “Islands of the People” in the Haida language.

Population: More than 4,500 worldwide  Language: Haida, three dialects still spoken

 

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Evelyn (Kujuuhl, left): "I am a weaver in a long family line of weavers. I’ve taught my daughter Carrie Anne."

Carrie Anne (k'iinuwaas, center): "The weaving continues through my daughter Rosalie (right) as well.

Evelyn: "Carrie and I just finished a robe together. It’s a replication of a robe that’s at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. It was a unique pattern—Qinga, the One in the Sea. He has supernatural importance to the Haida as canoe people, and also sends a message of the health and the power of the ocean."

—The Vanderhoops, Haida | Master Weavers

Image credit: P. Shannon/InnoNative 


You do get attached to your weaving.

HAIDA VOICES


 

 

 

 

FROM THE COLLECTIONS: Haida totem pole

Totem pole

This totem pole was once attached to the house of a Haida man named Abraham Moss. The hole at the bottom once served as the front door. The pole displays some of Moss’s wife’s crest figures—beings that represent her family’s history and identity. The pole now stands in three parts in the Museum's Northwest Coast Hall. 

This totem pole is from the village of Hlḵinul (Cumshewa) in  Haida Gwaii, the ancestral home of the Haida people off the coast of mainland British Columbia, Canada.

AMNH 16/8684, acquired 1901


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An arrow points to the totem pole where it stood in Hlḵinul (Cumshewa), Haida Gwaii, 1901.

Image credit: PN00956 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum, BC Archives


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This totem pole, shown standing in the previous image, is now in the Museum's Northwest Coast hall. (It was cut into three parts for transport and display.) The photo is rare because it shows the process of collection. Chief Klue uses his weight to help the pole fall so it can be brought here.

Image credit: Royal BC Museum, BC Archives


 

ONGOING TRADITIONS


 

 

 

 

HAIDA LANGUAGE

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Haida Language

Skidegate Haida Immersion Program, Haida Gwaii

The local dialect is called HlG̱aagilda X̱aayda Kil, which means “Skidegate Haida language.” Here, John Williams (Chief Gitḵun) and Ernie Wilson (Chief Niis Wes), work at the Skidegate Haida Immersion program (HlG̱aagilda X̱aayda Kil Naay) in 2011 to keep this at-risk language in everyday use. Both elders have since passed. Fewer than 20 fluent speakers remain.

Image credit: Farah Nosh. Audio: S.H.I.P. Voices: Betty Richardson/Audrey Young/Doreen Mearns/Bea Harley


Dang gwa haay.yad 'laa dii (Hello (Are you well today?))

Hala ḵaats’ii (Come in)

IN HAIDA TERRITORY


 

 

 

 

FROM THE COLLECTIONS: Haida gaagiixid mask

Mask

The stories of every Northwest Coast group warn of a scary being in the forest. For Haida people, this is gaagiixid (pronounced “gah-gee-HIT”). Gaagiixid started as a human who nearly drowned, then landed ashore. This experience turned his face blue from exposure and transformed him into a wild, even insane creature—a reminder to stay close to home at night.

This mask is from Haida Gwaii, the ancestral home of the Haida people off the coast of mainland British Columbia, Canada.

AMNH 16.1/128, acquired 1905


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In 1900, the Museum asked renowned Haida artist Charles Edenshaw (Da.a xiigang) to make this mask for the hall. It is rare—likely the second (and last) mask he ever carved. 

Image credit: Royal BC Museum and Archives PN 5168 


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“My grandmother is the daughter of Charles Edenshaw. To see his work firsthand is an incredible experience.”

—Robert Davidson (g̱uud san glans), Haida

Image credit: AMNH/J. Bauerle


 

FROM THE COLLECTIONS AND BEYOND


 

 

 

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Black Bear

Burnaby Narrows, Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii’s black bears, called taan in Haida, flourish on salmon, berries, crabs, sea urchins and clams, especially here in Burnaby Narrows. As one of the richest tidal ecosystems in northern waters, this area is an important food gathering place for Haida people as well.

Image credit: Island Conservation. Audio: S.H.I.P. Voices: Norman Price/Gladys Vandal


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Tufted Puffin

Lihou Island, Haida Gwaii

Several hundred tufted puffins nest on Haida Gwaii during breeding season, mostly on the archipelago’s unpopulated west side. In the Skidegate Haida dialect, tufted puffins are called ḵuux̱aana.

Image credit: Alaska Stock Images/AGE Fotostock. Audio: S.H.I.P. Voices: Roy Jones/Doreen Mearns


Taan (Black bear)

Ḵuux̱aana (Tufted puffin)

 

 

 

THEN AND NOW


(left) 1901: Skidegate village, one of the two largest in Haida Gwaii, was famous for the number of totem poles in front of its houses facing the sea. 
Slide to reveal an image of Skidegate today.
(right) 2015: Today, the village of Skidegate is further back from the beach. While none of its original totem poles remain standing, newer poles have been erected in this hub of art and culture.


Image credits: (left) AMNH Library 330387; (right) P. Shannon/InnoNative

 

See more from the Museum's collection of Haida objects.

 

 

Image credit for lead photo: P. Shannon/InnoNative