Tansy Visits the Haida Village of K’uuna
Tansy and her favourite photographer, travelling aboard the schooner Passing Cloud, visited K’uuna Llnagaay (Skedans) once in the summer, and tried another time but the water was too rough to disembark!
For a location map, click this link, and if you want to go on a virtual tour using Google street link then click on this link and follow the arrows. If you click, hold and swipe, you can rotate the view and go in other directions.
In the top picture Tansy is excited to see such a deep house feature. In Haida tradition a house pit has to be dug in one day. The bigger and deeper the pit obviously the greater the resources a chief could organize to get the job done, and thus the more powerful and higher his status.
Above is a shallower house depression of the older two-beam style of house – one roof beam is lying across the middle of the house depression, the other is lying on the left just outside. This probably indicates that the house frame collapsed to the left.
K’uuna has a good variety of poles of different types and house features. It is located outside of Gwaii Haanas but is still within the Haida Heritage Site protected area and as with the other Haida villages we were greeted and guided by a Haida Watchman.
Tansy walked the entire length of the village marveling at the different poles and house features.
On this pole the rings represent each potlatch a chief had held. Potlatching was a complicated and expensive undertaking and it is remarkable for a single chief to have held 13 in his lifetime.
The poles are slowly being reclaimed by the forest and the shrubs. In these pictures we can see the salal at the top of the pole and the way its roots are splitting the wood apart.
Sometimes the carving is quite clear.
Other times it is nearly obscured by nature’s reclamation project.
Tansy enjoyed being able to walk along the moss on this pole and observe the carving more closely. She has an expert appreciation for carving and is grateful to be so small that she can walk in places the heavy humans are not allowed. She could hear, very faintly, the pole singing potlatch songs as she examined it.
The deer are seemingly employed to keep the grass mown at this site.
This pole is said to have been inspired by neo-classical architecture observed by a Haida artist while visiting Victoria in the 1860s or so.
Once tansy had toured the village site she headed over to the Watchman’s cabin to sign the guest book and look at the other beach.
There she found a recent sculpture made by a watchman and asked the human to place her carefully on top for a better view. She had heard stories about human visitors climbing poles and breaking bits off them, so she was extremely careful, and only allowed to rest on top because of her size and knowledge of museum conservation practices.
There was a small patch of thistles, introduced sometime in the distant past and Tansy stopped to watch the bumble bees hard at work.
The sign was concerning, but no bears were seen, to Tansy’s regret.
Once she had explored everything, Tansy took a rest in a hammock before heading back to the beach for the ride back out to the Passing Cloud.
Tansy is glad to have now finished her stories from Haida Gwaii, not least because yesterday she headed off to the field for a few weeks of archaeological excavation in the Discovery Islands. She hopes to have some stories to share when she gets back near the end of the September.