A blink of the eyes

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SGuuluu Jaad (Foam Woman) danced at the Athlii Gwaii Celebration feast. Carved by  7idansuu (Jim Hart).

Alaskan Xaadas Kil: SGid Gaa.uuldang

HlGaagilda Xaayda Kil: SGid Gaa uulda GuuGaaldang

Gaaw Xaad Kil: SGid Gaa.uuldangwaay

Supernatural beings in our stories are often tied to the land and waters of Haida Gwaii.

The Hiilang.nga xidid Thunderbird is a supernatural being connected to lightning. By blinking its eyes, it creates lightning that flashes across the dark stormy skies and also makes thunder by flapping its wings.

SGuuluu Jaad Foam Woman blasts lightning from her eyes, as documented in Swanton’s retold tale,  Xagi. Xagi emerged from the waters and found SGuuluu Jaad sitting on the land. SGuuluu Jaad warned him to not approach or she would look at him. She was called, She-of-the-Powerful-Face and only Ts’aag eagle and kaagan mouse, who is very small, approached her successfully.

Weaving is a very highly valued skill on these Islands. There is a SGid Gaa.uuldang lightning pattern that is used in weaving that can prove to be challenging and beautiful when done in cedar, wool or spruce roots. Many artists also incorporate the thunder pattern into their carving.

The TV program, The Amazing Race, featured the six monumental poles at K­­ay Llnagaay. In the “race”, contestants were asked to guess which artist carved which pole before moving on. This proved more difficult to contestants than was expected! The St’aawas XaaydaGaay pole carved by Guujaaw shows a kneeling Hiilang.nga xidid Thunderbird transforming into a human.

Lightning is not only beautiful but also deadly. Lightning bolts carry as much as one billion volts of electricity. Each year approximately 2000 people a year are killed by lightning strikes.

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