Haidas have a special relationship with nature. We must show respect to all life forms. When gathering food, medicine or other materials, we must give thanks to the object and the Creator by singing a song or by saying a heart-felt thanks.

Haida women have a special relationship with the roots and bark that they gather for weaving.

"Cedar bark is said to be every woman’s elder sister." (Swanton, 1905b: 29)

Every person has her own way of showing gratitude to the trees and to the Creator. This is private and sacred knowledge.

Long strips of cedar are pulled from the trees. The dark outer bark is discarded. The remaining bark is wrapped in a bundle. The light bark is stripped into thin pieces to weave. Spruce roots, hlii.ng are more time consuming to harvest. Weavers go to the sandy area of Rose Spit or to moss-covered areas with spruce trees. After collecting the long spruce roots from under the sand, they are roasted on a fire to loosen the outer bark. Once the outer bark is peeled off, the roots are split in half.

The roots are split again until they are the desired thickness. The roots are hung to dry and then stored away until the weaver is ready to work on a project. The roots are then soaked in water to make them soft for weaving.

Haidas are known for our tightly woven baskets and hats. Spruce root baskets are twined with two to three active weft strands. Sometimes a weaver uses dyed strips to make patterns. Colours used to be made from things in nature. With modern technology, weavers can now use clothing dye. Geometric patterns like the "snail track" or the "strawberry" derive from nature.

If a weaver chooses to add a crest design, usually her husband or another male artist would paint the design onto the hat or basket.
Old Massett Village Council
Haida Gwaii Museum

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