Evelyn Vanderhoop Tunic
Evelyn Vanderhoop is a Pacific Northwest Coast textile weaver from the Haida Nation.

Haida Weaver Shares Her Thoughts on History and Archaeology

Evelyn Vanderhoop

When did the supernatural discover Haida on their Island? No one knows the exact date that Raven Traveling stubbed his toe on our cockle shell, but the stories are old. As Haida Gwaii evolved with ecological changes so did the Haida culture.

Recent archaeological discoveries on Haida Gwaii prove the stories conceivably fit into the historic environments of ancient floods and vast climate changes. From a land that connected and reconnected to the continental mainland through waves of ice ages, floods abound within our stories. These stories were passed down through the ages. The families of Haida clans tell of a time before the large trees took root on Haida Gwaii. They tell of a time when this place on earth was covered in water and supernatural beings existed on bare rock.

RELATED: Archaeologists Discover 13,800-Year-Old Underwater Site at Haida Gwaii

Northern Graham Island and parts of Southeast Alaska were an unglaciated refugium during the last glacial age. Our stories remind us of this time of isolation, when mainland populations were nonexistent and the icy world insulated us. We subsisted within the whims of our environment. Through early ancestral exploits within these harsh conditions, a symbiotic relationship was established with the supernatural and the natural Haida realms.

None of the recent scientific discoveries will knock Raven off his perch within our conscious mythic history. But it does explain his tricky persona as he flew between Island and Mainland taking this and giving that. Our environment has given and taken, our beaches have receded and flooded and we adapted. Trickery is just another term for thinking outside the box... eh Raven?

Evelyn Vanderhoop, Haida, comes from a family of weavers. From childhood, she was brought to the forest and beaches to harvest weaving materials, like spruce roots and cedar bark. Weaving was a way of life for all Haida women. Vanderhoop weaves the Raven's Tail and Naaxiin (Chilkat) techniques that are used in creating the chief's robes of the Northwest Coast.

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