Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Red Cod Island Village

Approaching the shore of this little
island, you could still see a pathway
created by removing rocks to allow the
large canoes to be more easily beached.
About forty years ago I was fortunate to be working for the U.S. Forest Service with an accomplished and adventurous kayaker. He invited me along on a trip in his two-man folding kayak to Canada's Queen Charlotte Islands, ancestral home of the Haida people.

The cutout at the top of the pole would
have held a grave box full of bones of a
deceased leader of this clan. The front
pole appears to be Raven, the back one--
They're the ones who lived in longhouses
fronted by these awesome totem poles, and who traveled across hundreds of miles of open water in thirty-foot long cedar canoes on slave raids.

Their abandoned villages are now a World Heritage Site, with no camping, visits limited to reservations, and then only if you have a native guide. Back in our day, however, all it took was the money to hire a float plane to drop us off fifty miles by sea from the nearest small town.

Possibly a wolf crest being aggressively colonized
by local salal. The area around the poles has been
cleared since we were there, but they are still
exposed to weather. Red Cedar is naturally rot
resistant, but its man-made aspects are slowly
 succumbing to nature.

Randy and I spent most of a week, just the two of us, camping on the beach at this site whose Haida name means "Red Cod Island Village". We knew it as Ninstints, the Anglicized name of its last powerful chief.

By 1880 the incidence of smallpox deaths had become so great that the village was abandoned.

I recently found these pictures in a box of memorabilia I was organizing. I took a digital photo of each picture and processed them in Adobe Lightroom using a preset I had created for its dramatic qualities.

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