Pole design changed after October earthquake

  • Jan. 9, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Submitted by Gwaii Haanas–As you know, the 20th anniversary of a unique cooperative management agreement between the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada is being celebrated this year with the carving of a 42-foot monumental pole. Now the design, which features the interconnections between the land, sea and people of Gwaii Haanas, is being changed to honour the supernatural being responsible for earthquakes.The pole, which will be raised in Gwaii Haanas on August 15, celebrates how the Council of the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada came together to create the Gwaii Haanas Agreement. Throughout the winter and spring, figures are being carved into the 42-foot red cedar log (harvested from the old growth forest of Graham Island), symbolizing all those who have dedicated themselves to the protection of this special place.Carver Jaalen Edenshaw chose figures that represent visitors, the work of archaeologists, those who stood on the line at Lyell Island in 1985 to stop the logging in what is now Gwaii Haanas, the Haida Raven and Eagle clans and more.But after the Oct. 27 earthquake, Jaalen discussed his idea of including the supernatural being responsible for earthquakes with the Archipelago Management Board, the six-person management team with equal Haida and Government of Canada representation that governs Gwaii Haanas.”I wanted to include Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving to acknowledge his power after he shifted and shook Haida Gwaii,” said Jaalen. The figure will be represented by a human figure wearing a Wasgo skin, or a supernatural Sea-wolf. In the story of Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving, a man whose younger brothers all disappeared, kills a Wasgo to avenge their deaths. He becomes stronger and stronger and wears the Wasgo skin to win a contest for who will become the supernatural being that holds up Haida Gwaii.Jaalen acknowledged that the change in design is also related to the disappearance of the hot water from Hotspring Island, a special place not only to Haida but to all who have visited Gwaii Haanas. The thermal spring which produced the water for the hot pools has been dry since the earthquake. By honouring Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving, Jaalen says, “Maybe I am hoping he will give the hotspring back to us.”This explanation is from Jaalen:This pole is a story pole. It tells contemporary stories, the roots of which reach back into earlier times. ??Sitting on the bottom of the pole Grizzly Bear holds a Sculpin. Above are five Good People Standing Together. Raven’s wings embrace these people. Above Raven, Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving wears his Wasgo skin. A human peeks from one of the Wasgo’s ears; a dog, from the other. Grasping the Wasgo’s tail are the three Watchmen. Eagle sits on the tallest hat. ???Wasgo lived in a lake behind Skidegate, terrorizing the villagers. Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving bathed in salt water to obtain strength. He defeated the Wasgo, skinned it and wore the skin. He then went to a house where the Supernaturals were holding a competition to replace the one who held up Haida Gwaii. Those who were vying for the job lay with a fire on their chest. He who endured the fire the longest would win. The other Supernaturals did not want Stone-Ribs to win because he was an Eagle and they were Ravens. So they called upon Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving. He went in with his Wasgo skin and lay down under the fire. He slipped out of his Wasgo skin without being seen. By doing this he was able to win the prestigious job. ??Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving now rests under Haida Gwaii. He holds a pole on his chest and this pole supports the Islands.