January 23, 2016

2236 CANADA (British Columbia) - S'G̱ang Gwaay (UNESCO WHS)

S'G̱ang Gwaay Llanagaay (Red Cod Island), named Ninstints in English, is a village site of the Haida people located on a small island off the west coast of the Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, an archipelago on the North Coast of British Columbia. Remains of houses, together with carved mortuary and memorial poles, illustrate the Haida people's art and way of life. The site commemorates the living culture of these people and their relationship to the land and sea, and offers a visual key to their oral traditions.

The village was the southernmost of Haida villages, being just west of and facing Kunghit Island, the southernmost island in the archipelago. It was occupied until shortly after 1880, so what survives is a 19th-century Haida village. Ninstints today features the largest collection of Haida totem poles in their original locations, many celebrated as great works of art. The site is extremely remote, and access is only by sea or air from towns in the northern part of the islands.

The Haida were known for their craftsmanship, trading skills, and seamanship, particularly in their large red-cedar canoes, but also as a warlike people. The introduction of small pox among in 1862 significantly reduced their sovereignty over their traditional territories, and opened the doorway to colonial power. As many as 9 in 10 Haidas died of smallpox. The population continued to decline due to other introduced diseases, such that around 1885 the remnants of the Ninstints people abandoned the village and moved to Skidegate.

About the stamps
Prepaid postcard.

Ninstints - Wikipedia
S'G̱ang Gwaay - UNESCO official website

Sender: Tam / moonlessnite (postcrossing) CA-595352
Sent from Kitimat (British Columbia / Canada), on 15.01.2016
Photo: Lowe Martin

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