“Guujaaw, leader of the Haida Nation, stands in an old-growth stand on Graham Island in the Queen Charlottes. ‘Maybe a hundred years ago,’ he says, ‘a Haida man looked into the heart of this tree to determine its quality for a canoe.'”
Paul Joseph Brown
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Xaaydaa Hlk’iiyan K’aaws Kyaang.aay Laa
(People who look after the Forest)
The peoples of the Haida Nation, who’ve inhabited British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands for at least 9,000 years, have completely blocked access for logging operations. The natives have:
- blocked roads to logging camps
- tied up barge traffic and
- forced the shut down of the Ministry of Forests office
And he says they want to stop the sale of Weyerhaeuser’s operations to Brascan until those concerns are dealt with. …
Protesters may shut down all logging
If the government doesn’t budge, Lore said there is widespread support amongst the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities for a complete shutdown of all logging on the islands by the weekend. (CBC News
::: Below the fold, a photo essay about the Charlotte Islands, the Haida people, and how they live :::
For at least 9,000 years, these ancient forests have provided the Haida people with food, clothing, shelter, tools and canoes.
But these sanctuaries — these forests that define the Haida — are being consumed, falling to the inexorable advance of men with chain saws. … (Seattle PI)
“We’ve been watching the logging barges leaving for years and years,” says Guujaaw. “And we have seen practically nothing for Haida.”
But on Feb. 27 , everything changed.
On that day, a B.C. appellate court ruled that the province and Federal Way-based Weyerhaeuser must try to accommodate Haida concerns before cutting the forest. (Seattle PI)
Chief Russ also mourns the Ain, the place where he fished for sockeye salmon with his grandfather and grandmother some 60 years ago.
“Since they started logging the area, the Ain River has gone dead,” Russ says. “They killed the Ain. And I see the downtrend on all the rivers. The elders would say in the Haida language that the Ain is asleep. But I have lost hope the fish will come back.” (Seattle PI)
April Davis, an assistant to Haida leader Guujaaw, notes “There isn’t any reason for hunger. The tide comes in, the tide goes out. Our freezers are filled with fish.”
The Queen Charlottes are odd in the fact that they are almost a country within a country. The Islands are officially part of Canada, however much of the islands are “cooperatively managed” by representatives of the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada. While in Washington State, we have relatively similar arrangements with native tribes, never in my life have I felt such an independent presence as that exercised by the Haida in the Charlottes. Good for them I figure, since their culture on the islands extends far, far, before any European based explorer showed up.
The islands are a wild, isolated beautiful place. I feel fortunate to have been able to experience them with my own eyes rather than just read about them or seen pictures. I look forward to returning some day.
Here’s what the Haida say about logging:
The Haida Nation is not against logging [but] logging can be done in a more responsible manner. … some places must be left intact and that logging be practiced in a way that does not spoil the land or waterways. … Nobody, including ourselves, has the right to wreck the land.