Off the coast of British Columbia, there is an island called Haida Gwaii. The Haida people were, for a long time, sort of the Vikings of the Northern West Coast, pillaging at will.
Yet they have also always been a creative and artistic people. They may have invented the idea of carving totem poles. They are also renowned for carving argilite, a form of shale.This is an example form the University of British Columbia Anthropology Museum.
Between the impact of diseases they had no immunities to and suppression of their culture, colonization by the British damaged their society tremendously. But they have been coming back strong on the last few decades of the 20th century. One of their best known artists is Bill Reid, who carved these pieces also on display at the UBC Anthropology Museum.
A traditional Haida canoe.
Raven and the First Men
Perhaps Bill Reid's greatest accomplishment is a large sculpture called The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, in the Vancouver Airport's International terminal. I've been wanting to see this piece for some time and the return into Vancouver Airport finally gave me the opportunity. Here are the pictures that I took.