Haida Ways of Being
Haida Ways of Being: Acting with Yahgudang
Xaayda Gwaay.yaay ad Xaaydas Giinaa.ah Yahguudang dang.ad Kyaang.gaay Yaa
Haida Gwaii and Haida Cultural Ways: with Respect and Take Care of
The Haida Laws Project began as a partnership between the Council of the Haida Nation and White Raven Law. In 2023, the Council of the Haida Nation (“CHN”) received a grant from the Law Foundation of British Columbia in the amount of $1.1 million to support the revitalization of Haida laws. In collaboration with its legal team at White Raven Law, the CHN is working with Haida leaders, knowledge-holders, community members, and youth to document and articulate Haida laws, or ‘ways of being’.
The Haida word for law, kil ‘yahda, means ‘saying it right, or with truth’. Haida law arises directly from Haida Gwaii and its Supernatural Beings and is intimately connected with the land and waters of Haida Gwaii. To engage in Haida ways of being, Haida citizens will join Elders and knowledge-holders in discussions about Haida protocols, values, stories, language, and culture on the lands and waters of Haida Gwaii, revitalizing and engaging Haida law. This project is unique in that it honours and make visible the Haida legal tradition and the Haida Supernatural worldview, and it employs methodologies rooted in Haida Gwaii.
White Raven’s legal team is also analyzing historical and ethnographic documents, oral recordings and testimony of Haida knowledge-holders, and contemporary governance documents, to synthesize Haida protocols as they have been expressed by the Haida for generations. The combined results will be brought to Haida communities for discussion and revision, resulting in a cohesive articulation of Haida law to serve as the foundation upon which CHN will build Haida legislation and judicial processes.
The Constitution of the Haida Nation was formally adopted in 2003 and mandates the CHN to “steward the lands and waters of Haida Territories on behalf of the Haida Nation, and to perpetuate Haida language and culture for future generations,” ensuring the Haida relationship with their ancestral territory continues in perpetuity. The formalization and implementation of Haida ways of being—grounded in the lands and waters of Haida Gwaii and expressed through the reciprocal relationships between the Haida and the Supernatural Beings—is one of the most important steps in fulfilling the mandate of the Haida Nation.
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