SGang Gwaay

Sep 04, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion


Under gorgeous sunrise skies National Geographic Sea Lion anchored just off the southwest coast of Anthony Island. By Zodiac we were a short distance from landing on one of the most significant and important indigenous sites in North America. SGang Gwaay Llnagaay is a world-famous sacred site, a place many people wait a life time to see. The Haida of this ancestral land consider this place more than an old village site but a place of spirit. The Haida population was decimated by epidemics introduced in the 1800’s by European invaders, the Haida people had no defense. The people of SGang Gwaay died by the hundreds and were buried in caves, mortuary poles and in the ground.

Upon landing on a slightly protected beach our first steps were made among the spirits of generations past. We were guided to a small welcoming house where our Haida Watchman gave a welcome that thanked us for making the long and arduous journey to a place so remote and held so highly by the Haida Nation. During the next two hours we walked with those spirits learning about their lives and the time they lived on this tiny, protected and gorgeous island. All buildings faced the sea which is the front porch, larder and highway for the northwest coast people. Those who dwelled so long ago on SGang Gwaay had rich lives, and as Vince our guide and Haida Watchman said to us, “imagine if we could have stopped that interruption of introduced disease and continued our culture on, to the present, with modern technology. What a world the Haida people would have created!”

Those words still ringing in our minds and hearts, we made our way into the ancient village site of SGang Gwaay, our imaginations opened, watching with respect as all around us throughout Haida Gwaay, the Haida Nation moves forward embracing their future...together.

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About the Author

Sharon Grainger

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Sharon’s degrees in psychology and anthropology from Eastern Washington University have given her a good base to pursue her profession as a naturalist and photographer. She has developed a portfolio of images encompassing her many interests, including photographs from travel, herbal medicine, ethnobotany, indigenous cultures, and natural and cultural history.

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