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The Haida (English pronunciation: //, HY-də), historically sometimes spelled Hydah, are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Their main territory is the archipelago of Haida Gwaii in northern British Columbia, but a group known as the Kaigani Haida live across the Dixon Entrance on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.
In British Columbia, the term "Haida Nation" refers both to the people as a whole and is often used synonymously with their government, the Council of the Haida Nation. Alaskan Haida, the Kaigani, are part of the Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska government.2 The Haida language has sometimes been classified as one of the Na-Dene group, but is usually considered to be an isolate.3
Haida society continues to be very engaged in the production of a robust and highly stylized art form, a leading component of Northwest Coast art. While frequently expressed in large wooden carvings (totem poles), Chilkat weaving, or ornate jewellery, it is also moving quickly into works of popular expression such as Haida manga.
Haida territories span the boundary between British Columbia and Alaska. Their heartland is the two large and many smaller islands known as Haida Gwaii, which means "island of the people" in Haida. This archipelago was surveyed in 1787 by Captain George Dixon of the British Navy. They were named the Queen Charlotte Islands by Captain Dixon after one of his ships, the Queen Charlotte, which was named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III of the United Kingdom. The name "Queen Charlotte Islands" was subsequently "given back" to the Crown in a ceremony between the British Columbia government and the Council of the Haida Nation. Haida also live in Southeast Alaska, particularly on the southern half of Prince of Wales Island in communities such as Hydaburg, and in large cities elsewhere in the region such as Ketchikan. Haida also live in various cities in British Columbia and the western United States.
The Haida were known for their craftsmanship, apt trading skills, seamanship, their warlike nature and their practice of slavery. Canadian Museum of Civilization anthropologist Diamond Jenness has compared the tribe to Vikings.4 The Haida also "created notions of wealth", and he credits the Haida with the introduction of the totem pole and the bentwood box.4
Oral histories and archaeological evidence indicate that the Haida have occupied Haida Gwaii for over 17,000 years. In that time Haidas established an intimate connection with the lands and oceans of Haida Gwaii, established highly structured societies, and constructed many villages.56 The Haida have occupied southern Alaska for over the last 200 years, the modern group having emigrated from Haida Gwaii in the 18th Century.
The Haida were important trading partners with Russian, Spanish, British, and American fur traders and whalers. According to sailing records they diligently maintained strong trade relationships with westerners, coastal people, and among themselves.7 Haidas were particularly well known for their large red-cedar canoes.
The introduction of small pox among the Haida at Victoria in March 1862 significantly reduced their sovereignty over their traditional territories, and opened the doorway to colonial power.8 As many as 9 in 10 Haidas died of smallpox.
In 1885 the Haida potlatch (Haida: waahlgahl) was illegalized under the Potlatch Ban. The elimination of the potlatch system eliminated financial relationships and seriously interrupted the cultural heritage of coastal people.
Missionaries regarded Haida totem poles (Haida: ǥyaagang) as graven images rather than intimate representations of the family histories that wove Haida society together. As the islands were Christianized many such cultural works were destroyed or taken to museums around the world. This significantly undermined Haida self-knowledge and further diminished morale.
The government began forcibly sending Haida children to residential schools as early as 1920. Haida children were sent as far away as Alberta to live among English-speaking families where they were to be assimilated into the dominant culture.
Like other groups on the Northwest Coast, the Haida defended themselves with fortifications, including palisades, trapdoors and platforms. They took to water in large ocean-going canoes, large enough to accommodate as many as 60 paddlers, each created from a single Western red cedar tree. The aggressive tribe were particularly feared in sea battles, although they did respect rules of engagement in their conflicts.4 The Haida developed effective weapons for boat-based battle, including a special system of stone rings weighing 18 to 23 kilograms (40 to 51 lb) which could destroy an enemy's dugout canoe and be reused after the Haida pulled it back with the attached cedar bark rope. The Haida took captives from defeated enemies. Between 1780 and 1830, the Haida turned their aggression towards European and American traders. Among the half-dozen ships the tribe captured were the Eleanor and the Susan Sturgis. The tribe made use of the weapons they so acquired, utilizing cannons and canoe-mounted swivel guns.4
In 1856, an expedition in search of a route across Vancouver Island was at the mouth of the Qualicum River when they observed a large fleet of Haida canoes approaching and hid in the forest. They observed these attackers holding human heads. When they came to the mouth of the river, they came upon the charred remains of the village of the Qualicum people and the mutilated bodies of its inhabitants, with only one survivor, an elderly woman, hiding terrified inside a tree stump.9 Also in 1856, the USS Massachusetts was sent from Seattle to nearby Port Gamble, where indigenous raiding parties made up of Haida (from territory claimed by the British) and Tongass (from territory claimed by the Russians) had been attacking and enslaving the Coast Salish people there. When the Haida and Tongass (sea lion tribe Tlingit) warriors refused to acknowledge American jurisdiction and to hand over those among them who had attacked the Puget Sound communities, a battle ensued in which 26 Native Americans and one government soldier were killed. In the aftermath of this, Colonel Isaac Ebey, a US military officer and the first settler on Whidbey Island, was shot and beheaded on 11 August 1857 by a small Haida fleet, in retaliation for the killing of a respected Haida citizen during similar raids the year before. British authorities demurred to pursue or confront any northern indigenous nations as they passed northward through waters over which the British nevertheless claimed sovereignty and Ebey's killers were never caught.1011
Historical Haida villages were:12
- Skidegate (Graham Island)
- Kaisun (Haida: Ḵaysuun Llnagaay 13)
- Cumshewa (Moresby Island)
- Skedans aka Koona or Q'una.
- Tanu (New Clew), Louise Island
- Ninstints (Sgang Gway, aka Anthony Island)
- Masset The name Masset, received from pre British contact between Haidas and the Spanish, actually includes three separate and adjoining communities,
- Hlk'yah GaawGa (Windy Bay) (Lyell Island)14
- Klinkwan (Kaigani Haida, Prince of Wales Island)
- Sukkwan (Kaigani Haida, Prince of Wales Island)
- Howkan (Kaigani Haida, Prince of Wales Island)
- Kasaan (Kaigani Haida, Prince of Wales Island)
- Tlell, British Columbia
- Dadens, Langara Island
The Haidas' calendar:
- April/May- Gansgee 7laa kongaas
- May/Early June- Wa.aay gwaalgee
- June/July- Kong koaas
- July/August- Sgaana gyaas
- August/September- K'ijaas
- September/October- K'alayaa Kongaas
- October/November- K'eed adii
- November/December- Jid Kongaas
- December/January- Kong gyaangaas
- January/February- Hlgiduum kongaas
- February/March- Taan kongaas
- March- Xiid gayaas
- April- Wiid gyaas
- Primrose Adams, artist
- Marcia Crosby, art historian
- Florence Davidson, artist and memoirist
- Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, artist
- Reg Davidson, carver
- Robert Davidson, carver
- Diane Douglas-Willard, basket weaver and educator
- Michael Douglas, lawyer
- Freda Diesing, carver
- Charles Edenshaw, carver, jeweler, and painter
- Dorothy Grant, fashion designer, artist
- Gerry Marks, artist
- Bill Reid, carver, sculptor and jeweler
- Jay Simeon, artist
- Guujaaw (Gary Edenshaw), artist and politician, current President of the Council of the Haida Nation
- Richard H. Carle, Sr., Chief Y'eil Iwaans (Big Raven)
- Delores Churchill, artist, basketweaver
- Chief Tlajung Nung Kingaas - Hereditary chief of Dadens/Yahgu 7laana, noted artist
- Skaay, mythteller
- Cumshewa, chief
- Koyah, chief
- Cuneah, chief at Kiusta
- Captain Gold
- Chief Masset
- Chief Skidegate
- Andres Farach
This is an incomplete list of anthropologists and scholars who have done research on the Haida.
- Marius Barbeau
- Robert Bringhurst
- Wilson Duff
- Christie Harris
- Bill Holm
- Marianne Boelscher Ignace
- John R. Swanton
- Frederick White
- John Enrico
- Clealls John Medicine Horse Kelly
- Gillian Crowther
- Emily Carr
- Mary Lee Stearns
- Charles F. Newcombe
- Frances Poole
- Daryl Fedje
- Kathleen E. Dalzell
- Nancy J. Turner
- George Peter Murdock
- Dan Vaughan
- Elvira Stefania Tiberini
- Haida Argillite Carvings
- Haida Heritage Centre
- Haida Islands (Central Coast)
- Haida language
- Haida manga
- Haida mythology
- HMCS Haida
- Alaska Native Storytelling
- Nisga'a and Haida Crest Poles of the Royal Ontario Museum
- Blackman, Margaret B. (1982; rev. ed., 1992) During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, a Haida Woman. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
- Boelscher, Marianne (1988) The Curtain Within: Haida Social and Mythical Discourse. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
- Bringhurst, Robert (2000) A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World. Douglas & McIntyre.
- Donald, Leland (1997) Aboriginal Slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America. University of California Press.
- Andersen, Doris (1974) Slave of the Haida. Macmillan Co. of Canada.
- Kushner, Howard (1975) Conflict on the Northwest Coast: American-Russian Rivalry in the Pacific Northwest. Greenwood Press.
- Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Richard Dauenhauer, Lydia T. Black (2008) "Anooshi Lingit Aani Ka/Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka, 1802 And 1804." University of Washington Press.
- Fisher, Robin (1992) "Contact and Conflict: Indian-European Relations in British Columbia, 1774-1890." UBC Press.
- Geduhn, Thomas (1993) "Eigene und fremde Verhaltensmuster in der Territorialgeschichte der Haida." (Mundus Reihe Ethnologie, Band 71.) Bonn: Holos Verlag.
- Harris, Christie (1966) Raven's Cry. New York: Atheneum.
- Harrison, Charles (1925) Ancient Warriors of the North Pacific - The Haidas, Their Laws, Customs and Legends. H.F. & G. Witherby.
- Huteson, Pamela (2007) "Transformation Masks" Surrey, B.C. Canada: Hancock House Publishers LTD. ISBN 978-0-88839-635-8
- Kan, Sergei (1993) SYMBOLIC IMMORTALITY; The Tlingit Potlatch of the Nineteenth Century Smithsonian.
- Snyder, Gary (1979) He Who Hunted Birds in His Father's Village. San Francisco: Grey Fox Press.
- Stearns, Mary Lee (1981) Haida Culture in Custody: The Masset Band. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
- The Hydah mission, Queen Charlotte's Islands : an account of the mission and people, with a descriptive letter, Rev. Charles Harrison, publ. Church Missionary Society/Seeley, Jackson & Halliday, London, England, 1884.
- Yahgulanaas, Michael Nicoll (2008) "Flight of the Hummingbird" Vancouver; Greystone Books.
- History of the Haida Nation, Council of the Haida Nation website. Skidegate and Old Masset combined are 1,471 combined, and 2000 more Haida live in Vancouver and Prince Rupert and elsewhere.
- Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
- Schoonmaker, Peter K.; Bettina Von Hagen, Edward C. Wolf (1997). The Rain Forests of Home: Profile Of A North American Bioregion. Island Press. p. 257. ISBN 1-55963-480-4.
- "Warfare". Canadian Museum of Civilization. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- Hume, Mark (20 July 2012). Arrival of the Haida to Hecate Strait "When did the first people arrive in the Americas?". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- "CAVES REVEAL THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF HISTORY". Queen Charlotte Islands Observer. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- "Canoes and Trade". Musée canadien des civilisations. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- "The Spirit of Pestilence". The University of Victoria. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- Elms p 20, citing William Wyford Walkem, Stories of Early British Columbia, "Adam Horne's trip across Vancouver Island" (Vancouver, BC: Published by News Advertiser, 1914) p 41.
- Beth Gibson, Beheaded Pioneer, Laura Arksey, Columbia, Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, Spring, 1988.
- Bancroft says they were Stikines, a Tlingit subgroup, and makes no mention of the Haida. History of Washington, Idaho, and Montana : 1845-1889, p.137 Hubert Howe Bancroft (1890) This enormous source, photocopied, including p.137, is more easily accessible online at , if desired. Retrieved 2012-2-21.
- Canadian Museum of Civilization webpage on Haida villages
- "FirstVoices: Hlg̱aagilda X̱aayda Kil : words". Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- Parks Canada website
- Macnair, Peter L.; Hoover, Alan L.; Neary, Kevin (1981) The Legacy – Continuing Traditions of Canadian Northwest Coast Indian Art
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