Haida Gwaii

The group of islands off the Pacific coast of Canada since 2009 is called by their name in the language of the Haida Haida Gwaii. Until then, their English name Queen Charlotte Islands was the official.

The two main islands are Graham and Moresby Iceland. In addition, about 200 smaller islands.


The islands were after his ship, the Queen Charlotte, named by Captain George Dixon, this in turn had its name from Queen Sophie Charlotte of Mecklenburg -Strelitz, the wife of King George III. of Great Britain. Since 11 December 2009, the colonial name "Queen Charlotte Islands " is changed to " Haida Gwaii ".

Flora and Fauna

On the islands, a variety lives of rare and endemic species, such as the largest subspecies of the American black bear (Ursus americanus carlottae ). Many tree species such as the coastal pine, the American red alder and the Giant Arborvitae are native here.

On the islands three parks are maintained, the occupying 69.166 km ² comprehensive Naikoon Provincial Park Gwaii Haanas National Park and the south of Moresby Iceland. The latter consists of 138 islands and covers an area of ​​around 1,500 km ². In addition, the Pure Lake Provincial Park is 15 km north of Masset, as well as the Delkatla Wildlife Sanctuary, a sanctuary for more than 140 bird species. On the Queen Charlotte Islands, there are some of the largest breeding colonies of Silberalkes. Individual colonies comprise more than 100,000 breeding birds. Very numerous are the stocks of Aleutenalks. Very numerous, he was originally on Langara Iceland, one of the northernmost islands of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Rats, which were introduced on this island have brought these breeding colonies to extinction. Currently, efforts are being made to make this island again free rats. However, a major threat to all ground-nesting birds on this island are raccoons that were introduced on the island.

People and places

About half of the approximately 5000 inhabitants is among the Haida, one of the Indian tribes, called First Nations in Canada.

One of the main settlements on the islands is Masset. It lies on Masset Sound of Northern Iceland Graham. The site was declared a town in 1961 and is the largest community with about 1,500 residents. Originally it was known as Graham City, but soon New Masset, in distinction from the Haida village of Old Masset. The site provides access to the northern Naikoon Provincial Park represents the St. Paul 's Anglican Church and the Old School House ( 1912 ) are probably the oldest building.

Not far from Masset is Old Masset - on the eastern shore of Masset Inlet. Also known as Haida, the place holds three older settlements. The 600 or so inhabitants are predominantly Haida.

The also around 600 inhabitants town of Port Clements, on the northeastern shore of Masset Inlets, was founded in 1907. Its name dates back to Herb S. Clements, a local member of parliament.

Tlell is a Haida village of about 370 inhabitants. It is the northernmost of the east coast of Graham Iceland, and is located on the southeastern boundary of the Naikoon Provincial Park. It is considered the most interesting artistic community of the islands.

Skidegate ( about 700 inhabitants) is one of two cultural centers of the Haida. 2 km away Skidegate Landing, from where ferries sail to Prince Rupert, after Alliford Bay on Moresby Iceland.

Queen Charlotte ( often linguistically Queen Charlotte City ), with 1250 inhabitants almost a city is to get a large extent. The Premier Hotel, the old school house, also saw mills, as well as numerous private homes give an impression of the settlements around 1900.

For the west coast is only one road that reaches the cliff at Rennell Sound.

Sandspit is, in addition to the settlement Moresby Camp, the only place in Iceland Moresby. Here live about 600 people. The place is connected only via the Alliford Bay with Skidegate Landing on Graham Iceland. The Gwaii Haanas National Park is accessible only by plane, helicopter or boat. The Pallant Creek Hatchery, approximately 45 km southwest of Sandspit, produces various salmon species.


At the end of the last Ice Age was the Hecate Strait, which now separates the islands from the mainland, dry. It was not until around 8000 BC, she filled the rise in sea water. In the transition zone between sea and land to tools found directly from the period after the retreat of the ice.

The Haida went very early to the Pacific and used the blades known as micro, very small stone blades. They were mainly made of obsidian, a type of glass of volcanic origin, which came from the mainland. While the artifacts from the time differ on the mainland around 5000 BC still strong from those who were from around 1000 BC until around AD Born - probably by robbery and trade contacts - those of the Tlingit and Tsimshian already become similar. When the first Europeans reached the end of the 18th century, the islands, the Haida have long been regarded as fierce warriors from Alaska to California.

The Haida consisted of two social groups, the Moietys who were called Raven and Eagle. They were composed of a total of 45 lineages, which probably every family lived in an earlier phase in their own village. Getting married was only possible between the Moietys, the children belonged to the moiety of the mother.

Some chief houses could accommodate about 100 people. Each lineage was able to insinuate such a chief. The head of a place in front of the wealthiest and most respected lineage, but was a warrior and run it the rank. So it was a fierce rivalry between chief Ninsingwas and Chief Skidegate.

The hierarchy and the Ehrenvorränge revealed in public the Potlatch, the most important festival. These festivals made ​​the most important events such as marriage, name ceremony or deaths visible, or the erection of a totem pole or a house. However, the potlatch was also the distribution of wealth of the upper class to those who have had limited access to the resources of the islands.

With the severe smallpox epidemic of 1862, the population collapsed.

The Haida began in 2003 to map their cultural artifacts systematically. One of the main goals was to create a map of Culturally Modified Trees, edited trees, which represent one of the main sources for the early history of non-literate cultures thanks to methodological progress.

On October 27, 2012, the Haida Gwaii Islands were by an earthquake, with the strength of 7.7 on the Richter scale, rocked.


The Port Clements Museum in the same spot provides a glimpse into the lives of the settlers and loggers.

In the private Ed Jones Museum in Old Masset Haida are located next to historic photographs and artifacts and works of art of the Haida and some totem poles.

The Council of the Haida Nation ( CHN) was founded in 1980. The Haida Heritage Centre in Qay'llnagaay ( Sea Lion Town), started in 2000, was completed in January 2007. The six first erected piles represent the six villages, which in turn correspond to six clans. 2006 the name was changed to " Kaay Llnagaay " by the SHIP Haida Language Program.

The abandoned village Ninstints on Anthony Iceland was ranked in 1980 as a World Heritage Site. The short after 1880 abandoned by up to 300 residents place dates back about 2000 years. Some of the long houses are still standing and were in 1980 ten of them in great condition. The many totem poles were known.