Haida Writes

Rhonda Lee McIsaac

Continuing with oral narratives and story-telling traditions, Haida writers have been contributing to Indigenous literature in many genres over many decades. Here is a small list of Kuugin guu gina K’aalang.ngas books for your Kuugin king dii reading pleasure. In these literary creations you will find educational lessons, Haida history, powerful stories of reclamation, respectful acts of reconciliation, decolonization methods, all founded in the beauty of Haida Gwaii. Go ahead, be a bookworm this winter and Kuugin king read the cold days away with these fantastic stories!

This list is not comprehensive – there are many more books, articles, chapters, and pieces available online and on store shelves. This article is the first in a short series that profiles and celebrates the many authors who contribute to sharing knowledge and bringing Haida lifeways to readers.

Carpe Fin

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

 

Carpe, a carpenter by trade, finds himself stranded on a rock in the middle of the ocean after a hunting party abandons him. His life becomes not his own in this new environment and comes face to face with The Lord of the Rock. Carpe must make amends as he faces life, death, retribution and the world of animals. Carpe Fin is a prequel to Red: A Haida Manga (2009); an award-winning book that tells the story of how Carpe builds a giant mechanical whale and ends up stranded on a rock.

 

 

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is an award-winning visual contemporary artist, author and professional speaker. Influenced by both the tradition of Haida iconography and contemporary Asian visual culture, Yahgulanaas has created a practice that is celebrated for its vitality, relevancy and originality.

Potlatch as Pedagogy: Learning Through Ceremony

Robert Davidson and Sara Florence Davidson

 

 

 

The Haida potlatch system of governance and cultural education has survived colonial attempts at assimilation, oppression, and denial of culture and language through legislative means. Fatherdaughter duo collaborate to share the importance and power of the Haida potlatch ceremony as a way of life and as an educational tool for generations to come. Guud Sans Glans Robert Davidson credits those who shared their knowledge with him and passes this knowledge to his daughter, family, and Haida communities. This book is part autobiographical research and lived experiences. Merged together, Potlatch as Pedagogy produces a new way of learning and marrying Haida culture and traditions into the modern field of education and teaching practices. 

Davidson’s passion to revive and perpetuate a variety of forms of Haida cultural expression, including song, dance and ceremony, has fueled his remarkable output throughout the years. He has been responsible among other things for carving and raising the first totem pole in his hometown of Massett in nearly 90 years when he was just 22 years old.

 
Davidson’s passion to revive and perpetuate a variety of forms of Haida cultural expression, including song, dance and ceremony, has fueled his remarkable output throughout the years. He has been responsible among other things for carving and raising the first totem pole in his hometown of Massett in nearly 90 years when he was just 22 years old.
Sara Florence Davidson is an academic researcher, writer, teacher and advocate for educational success and opportunities for youth and post-secondary students. 

Indigenous Repatriation Handbook

Jisgang Nika Collison, Sdaahl K’awaas Lucy Bell, Lou-ann Neel

This groundbreaking handbook is produced by and for Indigenous communities and museums working towards repatriation. The seven-part chapter book is the most current account of repatriation practices and experiences across BC. Each chapter can be read alone for educational purposes and quick reference, and subsequent chapters add to the journey towards a successful repatriation process. The Haida Repatriation journey has been successful and is used as a case study at the end of this book. As a living document, the authors are sure to note that this will evolve as repatriation practices change.

Jisgang is the Executive Director and curator at the Haida Heritage Museum at Kay Llnagaay. She is involved in many local and cultural program, including the Repatriation Committee, Haida language, and the Hltaaxuulang Gud ad K’aajuu dance group.

Sdaahl K’awaas is the head of the Indigenous Collections and Repatriation Department at the Royal British Columbia Museum and one of the founders of the Haida Gwaii Repatriation Committee.

Lou-ann Neel is a visual artist and long-time advocate for Indigenous artists intellectual property rights and copyright. She is a repatriation specialist at the Royal BC Museum.

Athlii Gwaii: Upholding Haida Law on Lyell Island

Edited by Jisgang Nika Collison

Making history is never easy, but the Haida Nation has many successes in doing so, contributing to drastic changes through asserting authority, proactive planning, and ongoing negotiations. In 1985, the Haida Nation took a position against industrial logging practices and took a stand at Athlii Gwaii declaring the southern-portion of the Islands Haida Heritage Site. The attention that Haida law garnered was enormous. The world watched as Haida citizens, and most prominently Elders, were arrested. With their unwavering belief in Haida law, in culture, and in the responsibility to the land and sea stood firm to the line. The designated Haida Heritage Site was disputed by the BC and Canadian government, but in time and through negotiations, the Haida protected the area under Haida and federal law in the Gwaii Haanas Agreement. Title was never agreed to, but the protection of the area was agreed upon and logging stopped in this area.

Jisgang Nika Collison was only 14 years old when this event took place. She curates this powerful political event and strong cultural time through the experiences, memories and facts remembered by 40 authors in this seminal hardcover book.

My First Solo

Erika Yahgujaanas

 

The illustrated children’s story takes place on the land at T’alaan Stl’ang Rediscovery Program camp. The story is about the preparations for a solo night on the land and how this experience has influenced Gaadguus Erika Yahgujaanas’ life experiences. Today, she uses the lessons gained at T’alaan Stl’ang for her advocacy work and to relay the importance of Haida culture for youth and her children. 

 
 

 

Gaadguus is an activist, language learner, mother, and local food advocate. She teaches and learns Xaayda kil and combines all of her interests and passions to a variety of on-Island programs.

 

Gifts from Raven

Kung Jaadee

 

In this beautifully illustrated children’s book Kung Jaadee Roberta Kennedy shares how Raven has placed in each person a gift; a special ability that everybody must find within and share with the world. Gifts from Raven could mean that we are good at carving, weaving, math, science or anything else we imagine.

 

 

 

Kung Jaadee is a Haida storyteller, writer, drummer, and teacher. She teaches Xaad kil and uses her language in storytelling and drumming and singing in her public performances at literary conferences and events on-Islands and abroad.  

Magical Beings of Haida Gwaii

Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson and Sara Florence Davidson

 

 

Ancient Haida narratives empower youth to live in harmony with nature. This 64-page illustrated hardcover book shares ten culturally important ancient stories of Supernatural Beings as they relate to the land, sea, and sky and inspire youth to find the balance in their lives and with nature. 

 

 

 

 

 

Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson is a lawyer known for her practice in indigenous environmental law, activist, musician, artist, and keeper of traditions, and author. Her book Out of Concealment: Female Supernatural Beings of Haida Gwaii (2017) is showcased in beautiful photographs of various female Supernatural Beings important to Haida culture, land and sea.

 

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