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The Haida are an indigenous nation of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. The Haida territories comprise the archipelago of the Queen Charlotte Islandsmarker, known in the Haida language as Haida Gwaii ("land of the Haida"), and the southern half of Prince of Wales Islandmarker in the southernmost Alaska Panhandlemarker, which is the home of a subgroup called the Kaigani Haida. Haida territories lie in both Canadamarker and the United Statesmarker, as do those of the Tlingit, and Tsimshian.

The term "Haida Nation" refers both to the people as a whole and also to their government on Canadian territory, the Council of the Haida Nation; the government for those in the United States is the Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Their ancestral language has been classified as one of the Na-Dene languages, but today is usually considered to be a language isolate. In addition to those Haida residing in the Queen Charlottes and Prince of Wales Island, there are also many Haidas in various urban areas in the western United States and Canada.

Haida society continues to be very engaged in the production of a robust and highly stylized art form. While frequently expressed in large wooden carvings (totem poles), Chilkat weaving, or ornate jewellery, it is also moving quickly into the work of populist expression such as Haida manga. Haida art is a leading component of Northwest Coast art.


The Canadian Museum of Civilizationmarker offers a detailed look at the Haida, who were known for their seamanship, their martial inclination and their practice of slavery. Museum anthropologist Diamond Jenness has compared the tribe to Vikings. The Museum indicates that the Haida also "created notions of wealth", and credits the Haida with the introduction of the totem pole and the bent box.

According to the Museum, like other groups on the Northwest Coast, the Haida defended themselves with fortifications, including palisades, trapdoors and platforms. They took to water in Pacific Northwest 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. The Haida developed effective weapons for boat-based battle, including a special system of stone rings weighing 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.

In 1856, an expedition in search of a route across Vancouver Islandmarker was at the mouth of the Qualicum Rivermarker 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. Also in 1856, the USS Massachusetts was sent from Seattlemarker to nearby Port Gamblemarker, 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 (Cape Fox tribe Tlingit) warriors refused to acknowledge American jurisdiction and to hand over those among them who had attacked the Puget Soundmarker 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 Islandmarker, 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 the British nevertheless claimed authority over and Ebey's killers were never caught.


Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay
Historical Haida villages were:


The Haida's 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

Notable Haidas

Anthropologists and scholars

This is an incomplete list of anthropologists and scholars who have done research on the Haida.

  • Emily Carr deserves mention as an early chronicler of the heraldic poles and long houses through her paintings

See also

Further reading

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Huteson, Pamela (2007) "Transformation Masks" Surrey, B.C. Canada: Hancock House Publishers LTD. ISBN- 13 978-0-88839-635-8 and ISBN- 10 0-88839-635-X
  • 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.


  1. 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.
  2. Beth Gibson, Beheaded Pioneer, Laura Arksey, Columbia, Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, Spring, 1988.
  3. 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)
  4. Canadian Museum of Civilization webpage on Haida villages
  5. Parks Canada website


  • Macnair, Peter L.; Hoover, Alan L.; Neary, Kevin (1981) The Legacy – Continuing Traditions of Canadian Northwest Coast Indian Art

External links

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