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Home  >  Digital Archives  >  People of the North  >  Native Peoples
By Tricia Brown

The Kaigani Haida (Alaskan Haida) people inhabit the southern half of Prince of Wales Island, located in the southernmost part of the Panhandle. Hydaburg and Kasaan are the primary villages, and the sea and forest are still rich providers for the subsistence of the people. Although once there were five Haida villages, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, families were evacuated into larger communities when disease swept through their villages. Also, with the coming of formal education, parents wanted their children to be schooled. The original homeland for the Haida of Alaska lies in Haida Gwaii, also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands in Canada. Like the Tlingit to the north, Haida society is structured into two moieties: Raven and Eagle, with subclans beneath them. And similar to other southeastern tribes, Haida people wear beautifully decorated button blankets as part of their dance regalia, claim clan membership through a matriarchal society, and carve masks and totem poles. However, Haida clans, legends, and art specialties are unique. Historically, Haida craftsmen gained a reputation for masterful carving of massive dugout canoes. In addition, artisans included talented silversmiths who etched clan symbols onto silver bracelets and rings, a specialty that developed a century ago when Haida craftsmen hammered American coins into jewelry.

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Gallery of Images
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Indians in ceremonial dress, Klinquan
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Eagle sculpture, Howkan, Alaska
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Brass band at Hydaburg, ca. 1900
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Basket weaver, Howkan, Alaska c. 1897

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