It ain’t Goodbye, Haida Gwaii

Most recently back from a 6 week cycle trip up to Haida Gwaii and back… island hopping my way up to this magical kingdom of five-foot thick technicoloured moss-carpeted floors and fifteen-foot wide sitka spruce trunks towering amongst more endemic species/land area than anywhere else in Canada…  A place the Haida have called home for over 10,000 years, and the birthplace of the most visually stunning and at once recognizable forms of Native North American art… as with the Land, so with the People – a place apart, a life apart… a dream, a fantasy, some place far away where folks only know about it hearsay, someplace where truths and legends mix and meet, shrouded in mists and myths so thick you can’t tell your hands from your feet. A place on the edge of a long forgotten time, when we lived for the Land and there was no yours or mine… but still a presence here unlike any I’ve felt, of soil of sea of community… From womb to tomb a peoples and their place, ingrained in each as One the other, as keepers of their Mother…

 

On the banks of the Yakoun, the silent waters glide by
and at night you hear it, the lone bird’s cry
Amongst the spruce and soft ferns where it first learned how to fly

The breath of the River, a touch of salt to the tongue
Its rising ebb and sinking flow, alive with tidal lung

And amongst the mosses and mists, ancient stories spun,
of Haida and Raven and the Stolen Sun
for the People of these islands, their Keeper – the Chosen Ones

And these forests dripping resonant with spirit and sound
the Sacred Codes once banished here found
for the Land they tread lightly, as they worship the ground…

Of Haida feasts and potlaches rich, immersed in myth and mists
a culture balanced deep, knowing how to subsist
to which white man came armed with their crosses and fists

A Pain they’ve kept for far too long, their tongue forbidden
their sacred dances and songs hushed and hidden
To say nothing of giving blankets purposefully pox-ridden

Yet the majority still refrain that it’s time to move on
but what of the oceans we’ve overdrawn
the giant groves and healthy communities – human and non – all but gone?

So it is for First Peoples everywhere, from Australia to Haida Gwaii,
and behind them we come exhausting Eden to a sty
then have the Gall to wonder why…

On the banks of the Yakoun, the silent waters glide by
and at night you hear it, the lone bird’s cry
amongst the spruce and soft ferns where it first learned how to fly.

If you can, please find the time to watch this talk. It’s by an incredible photographer and impassioned individual fighting the good fight. It isn’t easy to look at or listen to, exposing as it does our legacy of conquest through betrayal and bloodshed. But it is a story we must remind ourselves of, time and time again, for if we continue down this path, of turning a blind eye to all the injustices around us, then only the death of our humanity awaits us:    http://www.ted.com/talks/aaron_huey.html