After an all-night voyage from SGang Gwaay, we awoke alongside the dock at Daajing Giids, had an early breakfast, and set out on buses to Old Masset. Old Masset is one of two villages repopulated by the Haida Nation in the late 1800s after the entire island population was decimated by smallpox introduced by European explorers and traders. The most recent census (2021) documented over 800 individuals.
We split into two groups, one going to the carving studio of Christian White, the other to the studio of Jim Hart; after about an hour in each, we switched. Both carvers are world-renowned, undoubtedly why they were at an exhibition in Japan. Therefore, Todd White (Christian’s brother) and Gwalaga (Jim’s son) provided interpretation at their respective studios. We saw examples of and learned the difference between Memorial Poles, Mortuary Poles, and Commemorative Poles, in addition to learning about some of the form line figures comprising each pole. We also toured their carving sheds and viewed many pieces in various stages of completion, and we watched two carvers in Christian’s shed honing out a traditional canoe. The carvings were simply exquisite.
We were then invited to Christian’s longhouse, where we were welcomed in the traditional Haida way with dances and songs, prior to being served a delicious assortment of traditional Haida food (e.g., fish stew, clam and fish fritters, herring roe, and dried seaweed). After lunch, we visited two gift shops to purchase Haida art, carvings, jewelry, and various forms of memorabilia as remembrances of a special day.