Haida drummers; A visitor at SGang Gwaay; A painted longhouse at Swan Bay
© Parks Canada / D. Gardiner; Mara Kendrick
A home for generations
Archaeological evidence of human habitation on these islands dates back over 12,500 years and generations of Haida have been and still are nourished by the rich abundance of Haida Gwaii.
The Haida developed a complex society on these “Islands of Beauty” thanks to readily accessible food and resources like the mighty cedar tree. World renowned Haida artist, Bill Reid, describes its significance:
Oh, the cedar tree!
If mankind in its infancy
had prayed for the perfect substance
for all materials and aesthetic needs,
an indulgent god could have provided
From Out of the Silence (1971) by Bill Reid
Both red and yellow cedars are used for a variety of purposes: the bark is woven into clothing and baskets, and the wood is used for masks, bentwood boxes, houses and monumental poles and the ingeniously designed Haida dug-out canoe.
In the Haida worldview, everything is connected to everything else. Yahguudang is the Haida word that encompasses the idea of “Respect for all living things.” Come to Gwaii Haanas to discover more about the complex society, oral histories and artistic expressions of the Haida.