Queen Charlotte & Haida Heritage Center

May 09, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion

National Geographic Sea Lion arrived into the city of Queen Charlotte at 6:00 a.m. this morning. The sunrise made its way over the hill behind Queen Charlotte to light the harbor and surrounding waters. A fishing boat made its way out of the harbor and passed with its reflection along the still morning waters. Slowly, everyone prepared for our morning destination at the Haida Heritage Center. Our group was divided into two smaller groups, and half of us went outside to view the totem poles.

Each pole represented a specific Haida community and the collection of stories presented in Haida carvings. We came to a carving shed, where four hand-decorated Haida canoes were resting. Guests of the other group then spent their time inside half of the museum seeing one of the finest collections of totem poles, argillite carving, old and new weavings, and several new exhibitions newly opened at the Heritage Center.

After our visit to this fine Haidan interpretive center, we took a short ride to the Balancing Rock, a well-known site in Haida Gwaii. A large rock sits on a tiny point where it “balances” for all to see. Gorgeous weather, not a breath of wind, new spring plants and bird song surrounded us.

Finishing out our first day in Haida Gwaii, we spent our afternoon walking the Spirit Lake Trail. For two hours a variety of walks enjoyed the Haida Gwaii’s version of a coastal temperate rain forest; albeit, on a very warm, sunny day! Large western red cedar, giant western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and massive groves of red alder, along with all the new soft green leaves of early spring plants pushing their way towards the sun.

Returning in the late afternoon to National Geographic Sea Lion, our ship departed immediately, heading south toward tomorrow’s destination. On the way, a California grey whale decided to surface with its heart shaped blow, making our third whale species sighted for this trip! Slowly in the late light of the day we continued our voyage to explore our next destination, traveling in the ancestral territory of the Haida people.

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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. With five generations of artists behind her, she has developed a portfolio of images covering many interests including indigenous cultures, ethnobotany, natural and cultural history. Photography gives voice and interpretation to her experience of the world. Spending many years with Native peoples has dramatically affected her attitude towards how and what she sees. She recognized, through these experiences, the diversity of peoples around the world. This began a lifelong curiosity about the variety of ways in which different cultures relate to each other and this planet.

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