Haida - Totem Art/Crafts

The Haida Gwaii: a North American native culture, settled in the Queen Charlotte Islands and Alaska area in Canada over 8,000 years ago.  They are known for their outstanding craftsmanship through their historic Totem Pole construction, paintings and tatoos.  

The Haida Gwaii were the first inhabitants of the region and their survival depended on excellent stewardship of the land. The hand carved totem poles, paintings, and personal tattoo art clearly reflected their respect for the land.

Photo Source: Display, Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

Photo Source: Display, Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

It's unfortunate that much of the early Haida art work and history of this culture was destroyed. 

They had been decimated by epidemics, converted by missionaries, pushed off their land by settlers, and finally herded onto reservations by the government. Little of the Indian culture remains today.
— Marion Pearsall

Whale Symbolism in Haida Totem Poles: Ruler of His own Underwater City; lives with noble supernatural beings there; hates Thunderbirds; some turn into Wolves.

Small totem poles such as the one in the photo were carved for sale between the years 1910 and 1950, during the time when the Potlach ceremonial celebration - incorporating traditions of sharing and gift giving, was banned by law.  The Potlach ban was dropped later on in 1951. While carving large poles, masks and other activities associated with potlatching declined during this difficult time, artists produced many smaller poles, in hopes of keeping the artistic traditions alive.

Read more about the Haidai Gwaii Culture and their magnificent craftsmanship here.  To view more of Haida Gwaii craftsmanship and artwork, click the following link - First Peoples of Canada.