Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pole Raising–Skidegate

This post will be heavy on pictures of some amazing Haida applique and spruce and cedar woven hats.  There were some many beautiful pieces of clothing that I couldn't put them all on the post.

Jim and I attended the pole raising in Skidegate when we were there.  It was the first Chief's pole to be raised in over 100 years in Skidegate.  There was a huge potlatch after the pole raising that we did not attend.  Although everyone is welcome to attend - we went in to the hall where it was being held and it was a very special event and it was going to be a very long night - they can go on until the wee hours of the morning and we had Jenny in the car.  It would have been amazing to see the dancing - but I am sure that would have been quite late in the night.

There was  probably a couple of hundred people at the pole raising.  The pole was being raised at the home of the new Chief.  Here is a link to a blog called   "Living on the Edge"  This blog as some wonderful pictures and more information about the chief and the traditions - well worth looking at.

Jim and I took a few pictures of the wonderful Haida clothing. 


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The cedar hats are made by the Haida people and the Otter pelts are used for many things - clothing and trim on the head bands.  When we were in Old Masset we stopped at a place where the woman in the centre was weaving the headband she is wearing and triming it with the Otter fur. 

Entire families dressed for the occasion.


This is the chief and his wife watching the pole go up.  The Haida people are either from the Eagle or Raven clan and Eagles must marry only Ravens - and Ravens only marry Eagles.  The chief is an Eagle and his wife is a Raven.


This is the blessing of the pole before it is raised.


A system of ropes and pulleys ( block and tackle) are used to raise the pole.

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Everybody gets in and helps pull on the ropes.  There was an incident with a rope breaking and a member of the community that was watching got hit by a block and hurt - some broken ribs - but in the end he was okay - taken away in the ambulance and the work to raise the pole continues.


And here is the pole -- it is a beautiful pole -- an Eagle on top for the chief - the two bars on the very top signify the number of potlatches he has or will have hosted.



  1. Wow that is some big pole!!! The costumes are fabulous too. I can only imagine how bright and beautiful they were in real life. Thanks for sharing Pam!

  2. WOW! Amazing! What a great trip! thanks for sharing! Cheers!

  3. Your trip is a great trip.
    I've never seen photos like these.
    ciao ciao

  4. I loved this post Pam- it must have been an amazing experience. I know when we have celebrations at school- the spiritual part of the festivities is very moving with the beat of the dream and all the beautiful regalia.
    Thanks for sharing these photos. I shared them with my students at school.
    Hope all other things are well with you and yours.
    Warmest regards,