Haida mythology

The Haida are one of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Their national territories lie along the west coast of Canada and include parts of south east Alaska.

Raven

Bill Reid raven
Bill Reid's sculpture The Raven and The First Men, showing Raven releasing humans from a cockle shell. Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

Within Haida mythology, Raven is a central character, as he is for many of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, see Raven Tales. While frequently described as a "trickster", Haidas believe Raven or Yáahl[1] to be a complex reflection of one's own self. Raven can be a magician, a transformer, a potent creative force, ravenous debaucher but always a cultural hero. He is responsible for creating Haida Gwaii, releasing the sun from its tiny box and making the stars and the moon. In one story he released the first humans from a cockle shell on the beach; in another story he brought the first humans up out of the ground because he needed to fill up a party he was throwing. Raven stories on one level teach listeners how to live a good life, but usually by counterexample. Raven has been described as the greediest, most lecherous and mischievous creature known to the Haida, but at the same time Raven often helps humans in our encounters with other supernatural beings. Raven acquired such things as fresh water, salmon and the house for humans. Robert Bringhurst has noted that Raven never actually creates anything; he made the world by stealing, exchanging, redistributing, and generally moving things around.

Other figures

Ta'xet and Tia are death gods among the Haida. Ta'xet rules violent death, while Tia rules peaceful death. Dzalarhons, a woman associated with frogs and volcanoes, and her husband, Kaiti (bear god), arrived at the homeland of the Haida from the Pacific Ocean along with six canoes full of people. Gyhldeptis is a kindly forest goddess. Lagua is an invisible spirit who helped the Haida discover the uses of iron. Shamans could speak with Lagua's voice by clenching their teeth. Sin ("day") is the sky god and chief deity.

Some of the mythology has been collected by poet Anne Cameron, who created interpretations for adults and children. Epic versions of the mythology by 19th century Haida storyteller-poets Skaay and Ghandl have been translated by Robert Bringhurst, whose Story as Sharp as a Knife, a collection of their works, won the Governor General's Award. His translations, though, are controversial in Haida circles and some have charged him with cultural appropriation.

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ Lawrence, Erma (1974). "Yáahl (Xaadas Gyaahláang)". Society for the Preservation of Haida Language and Literature.
Haida manga

Haida manga is a contemporary style of Haida comics and print cartoons that explores the elements of both traditional North Pacific indigenous arts and narrative, while also adapting contemporary techniques of artistic design from the western portion of the North Pacific, namely the Japanese manga from which its name derives. Haida manga have so far been published in several countries including Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Macao, France, and Canada.

Haida people

Haida (English: , Haida: X̱aayda, X̱aadas, X̱aad, X̱aat) are a nation and ethnic group native to, or otherwise associated with, Haida Gwaii (a Canadian archipelago) and the Haida language. Haida language, which is an isolate language, has historically been spoken across Haida Gwaii and certain islands on the Alaska Panhandle, where it has been spoken for at least 14,000 years. Prior to the 19th century, Haida would speak a number of coastal First Nations languages such as Tlingit, Nisg̱a'a and Coast Tsimshian. After settlers' arrival and colonisation of the Haida through residential schools, few Haida speak the Haida language, though there are many efforts to revive the language.

The Haida national government, the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), is based in the archipelago of Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) in northern British Columbia, Canada. A group known as the Kaigani Haida live across the international border of the Dixon Entrance on Prince of Wales Island (Tlingit: Taan) in Southeast Alaska, United States; Taan was traditionally and still is in Tlingit territory. The Kaigani Haida migrated there in the late 18th century. Haida have occupied Haida Gwaii since at least 14,000 BP. Pollen fossils and oral histories both confirm that Haida ancestors were present when the first tree, a Lodgepole pine, arrived at SG̱uuluu Jaads Saahlawaay, the westernmost of the Swan Islands located in Gwaii Haanas.In British Columbia, the term "Haida Nation" can refer both to Haida people as a whole and their government, the Council of the Haida Nation. While all people of Haida ancestry are entitled to Haida citizenship, the Kaigani are also part of the Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska government. The Haida language has sometimes been classified as one of the Na-Dene group, but is usually considered to be an isolate.Haida society continues to produce a robust and highly stylized art form, a leading component of Northwest Coast art. While artists frequently have expressed this in large wooden carvings (totem poles), Chilkat weaving, or ornate jewellery, in the 21st century, younger people are also making art in popular expression such as Haida manga.

In 2018 the first feature-length Haida-language film, The Edge of the Knife (Haida: SG̲aawaay Ḵʹuuna), was released, with an all-Haida cast. The actors learned Haida for their performances in the film, with a 2-week training camp followed by lessons throughout the 5 weeks of filming. Haida artist Gwaai Edenshaw and Tsilhqot'in filmmaker Helen Haig-Brown directed, with Edenshaw and his brother being co-screenwriters, with Graham Richard and Leonie Sandercock.

Index of articles related to Indigenous Canadians

The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to Indigenous peoples in Canada, comprising the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Kiidk'yaas

Kiidk'yaas (meaning "ancient tree" in the Haida language), also known as the Golden Spruce, was a Sitka spruce tree (Picea sitchensis 'Aurea') that grew on the banks of the Yakoun River on the Haida Gwaii archipelago in British Columbia, Canada. It had a rare genetic mutation that caused its needles to be golden in colour (rather than the usual green). Kiidk'yaas was considered sacred by the Haida people.

Kiidk'yaas was felled in January 1997 by Grant Hadwin as an act of protest against the logging industry.

Kiidk'yaas and its felling are the subject of John Vaillant's 2005 book The Golden Spruce.

List of death deities

Deities associated with death take many different forms, depending on the specific culture and religion being referenced. Psychopomps, deities of the underworld, and resurrection deities are commonly called death deities in religious texts. The term colloquially refers to deities that either collect or rule over the dead, rather than those deities who determine the time of death. However, all these types are included in this article.

Many have incorporated a god of death into their mythology or religion. As death, along with birth, is among the major parts of human life, these deities may often be one of the most important deities of a religion. In some religions in which a single powerful deity is the object of worship, the death deity is an antagonist against whom the primary deity struggles. The related term death worship has most often been used as a derogatory term to accuse certain groups of morally abhorrent practices which set no value on human life. In monotheistic religions, death is commonly personified by an angel instead of a deity.

List of religions and spiritual traditions

While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."

A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

Man in the Moon

The Man in the Moon refers to any of several pareidolic images of a human face, head or body that certain traditions recognize in the disc of the full moon. The images are composed of the dark areas of the lunar maria, or "seas" and the lighter highlands of the lunar surface.

Monkey Beach

Monkey Beach is Eden Robinson's first novel, published by Vintage Canada in 2000. It was the recipient of the 2001 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, which is given to work by writers from British Columbia, and was a shortlisted nominee for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award for English-language fiction.

Mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas

The indigenous peoples of the Americas comprise numerous different cultures. Each has its own mythologies. Some are quite distinct, but certain themes are shared across the cultural boundaries.

Skaay

Skaay was a blind, crippled storyteller of the Haida village of Ttanuu born c. 1827 at Qquuna. Skaay could neither read nor write, but his stories of Haida mythology have survived in the form of written transcriptions taken down by John Swanton with the aide of Henry Moody over the winter of 1900. These transcriptions of myths are unique in the literature, both for their fidelity (due to Swanton) to the precise wordings of the mythteller, and for the survival of the pre-translation originals.

The stories Skaay chose to dictate are the Qquuna Cycle, the longest poem recorded in Haida, Qquuna Qiighawaay, the oral history of Skaay's family, and Raven Travelling, Skaay's original take on the well-worn tale (see Raven Tales).

Skaay appears three times in church records: first, in 1884 when he was baptized "Robert McKay"; second, on 13 March 1892, again a baptism, where his name is entered simply as "Sky"; third, in January 1894 when he registers a marriage to "Esther" and was baptized once more, this time as "John Sky". In Haida, 'Skaay' refers to a type of mollusk. The Haida were divided into two social groups, or moieties, called Raven and Eagle. Skaay belonged to the Eagle side or moiety.

Spirit of Haida Gwaii

The Spirit of Haida Gwaii is a sculpture by British Columbia Haida artist Bill Reid (1920–1998). There are two versions of it: the black canoe and the jade canoe. The black canoe features on Canadian $20 bills issued between 2004 and 2012.

Tia (goddess)

Tia is the goddess of peaceful death in the Haida mythology. It is considered a duality. Its counterpart is Ta'xet, the Haida God of violent death.

Underworld

The underworld is the world of the dead in various religious traditions, located below the world of the living. Chthonic is the technical adjective for things of the underworld.

The concept of an underworld is found in almost every civilization, and "may be as old as humanity itself". Common features of underworld myths are accounts of living people making journeys to the underworld, often for some heroic purpose. Other myths reinforce traditions that entrance of souls to the underworld requires a proper observation of ceremony, such as the ancient Greek story of the recently dead Patroclus haunting Achilles until his body could be properly buried for this purpose. Persons having social status were dressed and equipped in order to better navigate the underworld.A number of mythologies incorporate the concept of the soul of the deceased making its own journey to the underworld, with the dead needing to be taken across a defining obstacle such as a lake or a river to reach this destination. Imagery of such journeys can be found in both ancient and modern art. The descent to the underworld has been described as "the single most important myth for Modernist authors".

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