Our knowledge about the ocean and Haida culture is handed down from generation to generation. Inherited teachings are passed on to nieces, nephews, children and grandchildren. This connects us to the land, sea and our cultural values, ethics and laws.
- Haida Ethics and Values
- Haida Marine Traditional Knowledge
- Maintaining Access to Marine Resources
- Protecting Important Sites and Areas
Haida Ethics and Values
Haida ethics and values are fundamental to Haida culture and society – respect, responsibility, interconnectedness, balance, seeking wise counsel, and giving and receiving are all elements that define the Haida world view.
Yahguudang or Yakguudang. Respect
Respect for each other and all living things is rooted in our culture. We take only what we need, we give thanks, and we acknowledge those who behave accordingly.
‘Laa guu ga kanhllns. Responsibility
We accept the responsibility passed on by our ancestors to manage and care for our sea and land. We will ensure that our heritage is passed onto future generations.
Gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagiida. Interconnectedness. Everything depends on everything else
The principle of interconnectedness is fundamental to integrated planning and management. This comprehensive approach considers the relationships between species and habitats, and accounts for short-term, long-term and cumulative effects of human activities on the environment. Interrelationships are accounted for across spatial and temporal scales and across agencies and jurisdictions.
Giid tll’juus. Balance. The world is as sharp as the edge of a knife
Balance is needed in our interactions with the natural world. If we aren’t careful in everything we do, we can easily reach a point of no return. Our practices and those of others must be sustainable.
Gina k’aadang.nga gii uu tl’ k’anguudang. Seeking Wise Counsel
Our elders teach us about traditional ways and how to work in harmony. Like the forests, the roots of our people are intertwined. Together we consider new ideas and information in keeping with our culture, values and laws.
Isda ad diigii isda. Giving and Receiving
Reciprocity is a respected practice in our culture, essential in our interactions with each other and the natural world. We continually give thanks to the natural world for the gifts that we receive.
Haida Marine Traditional Knowledge
The intimate relationship that Haida maintain with the marine environment spans countless generations. In part, it is this knowledge of the land and ocean that has ensured the continued success of Haida culture. From their earliest memories Haida children recall digging shellfish, gathering seaweed, learning how to spear octopus, and helping to prepare and preserve fish. Always underlying the lessons is a message of respect and recognition of the responsibility to maintain balance in the natural world.
In 2007, the CHN initiated the Haida Marine Traditional Knowledge Study to research and document Haida culture, traditions and knowledge about the ocean. Fifty-six Haida shared their knowledge of food, fishing and gathering areas, seasonal harvest patterns, sites of cultural and historical importance, and observations about species abundance and population trends. More than 4,000 locations and 150 marine species were recorded, with oral accounts and first-hand observations dating back to the 1920s.
The Ocean & Way of Life Map includes over 500 Haida names for ocean and freshwater bodies, settlements and supernatural beings, and presents some of the information compiled during the Haida Marine Traditional Knowledge Study. The Ocean & Way of Life brochure is a complement to the map and provides more information about the project.
These products, in addition to ongoing engagement with the Haida Marine Working Group and others with marine traditional knowledge, continue to be an integral part of the marine planning work done by the Haida Oceans Technical Team. The Technical Team is currently working to develop a searchable database to house the information from the Haida Marine Traditional Knowledge Study so that traditional knowledge data can continue to be incorporated into all marine planning and decision-making processes.
Maintaining Access to Marine Resources
Successful Haida traditional use, such as fishing, hunting and gathering, requires access to a range of healthy resources. Traditional use activities are defined by the seasons and are based on the principles of respect and taking only what is needed, which is consistent with the concepts of stewardship and sustainable use. Greater awareness is needed of Haida traditional use and stewardship activities and the importance of these activities in Haida communities.
Fishing for trade has always been an integral component of Haida culture. Foods and other materials such as taaw eulachon grease, ‘as soap berries, and mountain goat wool were not available on Haida Gwaii and were traded for fish and other local items. In more recent times, Haida have participated in the fisheries economy as skippers, fishers, boat builders, and cannery workers.
Over the last several decades, however, local participation (including Haida participation) in the commercial fisheries economy has declined and the size of the resident commercial fleet on the islands is currently very small. In addition, very few of the fish caught in Haida Gwaii waters are delivered to local seafood processing plants. Increasing the local economic benefits from marine resources is key to developing a sustainable marine economy on Haida Gwaii. Mechanisms for this include increasing participation in specific commercial fisheries, using local processors, and strengthening distribution channels.
Section 6.5 of the Haida Gwaii Marine Plan outlines objectives and strategies to ensure Haida access for traditional use activities. Section 7.3 outlines objectives and strategies to support the growth of the community-based fisheries sector on Haida Gwaii.
Protecting Important Sites and Areas
Haida Gwaii Yahguudang, respecting Haida Gwaii, includes respect for the past, present and future. Haida Gwaii has been home for the Haida Nation for thousands of years and will continue to be for generations to come. Scientific studies and archeological research are reinforcing many Haida oral traditions. For example, in the past, sea levels were much lower; archaeological excavations have revealed signs of human use that are now underwater due to rising sea levels. Haida Gwaii also has a variety of post-contact marine-related historical sites (e.g., shipwrecks and canneries) that may need to be assessed and protected.
Coastal and foreshore developments impact cultural and archaeological sites and areas. Natural events such as storms can also disturb or erode shorelines. In deeper water, bottom trawling and offshore industrial developments could impact sites and areas. To safeguard the cultural heritage of Haida Gwaii, it is imperative to protect known and future cultural and archaeological sites and areas, including spiritual places and locations featured in Haida oral traditions.
Section 6.2 of the Haida Gwaii Marine Plan outlines objectives and strategies for the protection of Haida values and archeological sites and areas.