Haida Spirit
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1998, 28” x 20”, acrylic
On a visit to the Queen Charlotte Islands, a Haida elder guided my wife, Birgit, and me to a secluded spot on a calm bay where Bill Reid's canoe sat at a lonely anchorage. Reid, a pioneer who did so much to revive the ancient forms of Haida art, directed the hollowing of the 50 foot canoe from a single ancient red cedar according to traditional designs and following the traditional method. It was the first of its kind in almost one hundred years. Powered by 20 Haida paddlers on an epic 558 mile journey from Vancouver to Skidegate, it truly earned its name, Loo Taas (Wave Eater).
Seeing the canoe was, for me, a kind of spiritual experience. And although there was no raven present that day, in my mind's eye, I saw a raven. To the Haida, the raven is a wily trickster-transformer who created the world, and I could see him, hovering over the canoe perfectly centered.