Potlatches

Haida Potlatching

Northwest Coast Tribes practice the potlatches and the purpose is to redistribute wealth. The potlatch represented an important event such as the raising of totem poles or the naming of chiefs or individuals. Names were usually given away in the presence of people. Several different names were given to one person, and some were related to reaching adulthood. When a person was adopted they were given a name and a […]

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Chiefs and Shamans

In the days of the ancestors the Haida class systems were based on wealth and rank, which was finalized at potlatches. The chiefs position was his rank and the social structure determined the rank of others. Through the adoption of rich relatives, few people had no status at all. There were chiefs of Eagle or Raven lineages and villages, each inheriting his position from a brother or uncle. To maintain […]

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Reincarnation

The Haida believe in re-birth, which means the transfer of identity to a newborn baby. The same person could possibly be transformed many times in different people. It is usually carried on within families and occasionally in non-family members. The way that it is known whom the person is transformed into comes to people in dreams. For example, if a dream is about a person that has passed on and […]

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Haida Myths

The prevalence of the Frog in the art and mythology of the Haida and Northwest Coast nations is due solely to a die-hard Mongolian tradition, which has known of no break in its transmission from the Old World. Aware of a puzzle there–finding no frog in nature, and possessing so many carved ones–the Haida have tried to furnish an explanation, in a story recorded by James Deans, in the 1870’s: […]

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The Weeping Totem of Tanu

The Weeping Totem Pole stands on the Islands of Tanu in the Queen Charlotte group and is about a hundred years old. It shows a figure of a man shedding streams of tears. This is knows as the Weeping Totem Pole of Tanu. The legend of the Weeping Totem of Tanu was told long before the white man came. When Chief Always-Laughs ruled the people of the Northern Isle of […]

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