Image Hosted by“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
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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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

Haida spokesperson Gilbert Parnell says they want to stop logging in environmentally sensitive areas.

 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 :::

Suddenly, in the soft light sifting through a canopy of 800-year-old cedars, the hulk of an unfinished dugout canoe appears — unchanged since it was abandoned more than a century ago.

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)

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Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIn the silence of the lush forest glade, you can hear the distant rumble of Weyerhaeuser Co.’s sorting yard, from which a wealth of logs has been loaded onto barges to feed America’s hunger for lumber.

“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 [2002], 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)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usEvelyn Vanderhoop, a Haida master weaver in the village of Old Masset at the northern end of the Queen Charlottes, is working on a Chilkat robe of wool and cedar cambium depicting totemic figures of the eagle and orca. “It’s a really important part of gathering to thank the tree,” she says of the centuries-old customs. (Seattle PI)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usReynold Russ, 71, the hereditary chief of Old Masset village on Graham Island, laments the decline in fishing in the islands and the attitude of the provincial government. “We’ve lived off the resources of Haida Gwaii for 10,000 years, but in their minds we don’t own the resources.”

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)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAlex and Thomas Clifford head out with their father to help set crab pots near their home in Skidegate, Graham Island.

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.”

(Seattle PI)

A Northwest sailing buff — his site and photographs about the islands are stunning — writes:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe [previous] blockade received international exposure. One has to attribute much of this to the fact that by all accounts the Haida appear to be savvy politicians.

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:

Haida culture is our relationship to the land in its totality. Ginn7waadluwaan gud7ahl Kwaagiidang-everything depends on everything else. The old forests of Haida Gwaii have sustained and continue to sustain our way of life. In the past fifty years, industrial logging has transformed the landscape of Haida Gwaii from diverse old forest to young, even-aged stands of one or two species. The major river systems that once provided Haida villages with salmon; large cedars for longhouses and monumental art; and, plants for food, medicines, fiber and animal habitat have been eradicated by logging without consideration for these values.

 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.

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