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(hī`də), Native North Americans living primarily on the Queen Charlotte Islands, off British Columbia, and on the southern end of the Prince of Wales Island, off Alaska. They speak the Haida language, which forms a branch of the family of Nadene languages (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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). In physical and cultural characteristics they are closely related to the Tlingit and the Tsimshian; the three tribes belong to the Northwest Coast cultural area (see under Natives, North AmericanNatives, North American,
peoples who occupied North America before the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th cent. They have long been known as Indians because of the belief prevalent at the time of Columbus that the Americas were the outer reaches of the Indies (i.e.
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). Before the advent (early 19th cent.) of white fur traders, the Haida lived in large cedar-plank houses, fished for salmon, and hunted sea mammals; they were noted for their large and well-made dugout canoes. Their society was divided into the Raven and Eagle clans; marriage was always with someone of the opposite clan, and clan membership derived matrilineally. Their customs featured the conspicuous display of wealth (see potlatchpotlatch
, ceremonial feast of the natives of the NW coast of North America, entailing the public distribution of property. The host and his relatives lavishly distributed gifts to invited guests, who were expected to accept any gifts offered with the understanding that at a
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). They then numbered some 8,000, but by 1880 disease, particularly smallpox and venereal infections, had reduced their population to some 2,000. Today most Haida are employed in fishing, canning, and logging; many have left their island homes for mainland life. The artwork of the Haida is widely acclaimed. In 1990 there were close to 2,000 Haida living in the United States and another 2,000 in Canada.


See C. Harrison, Ancient Warriors of the North Pacific (1925); P. Miller, Lost Heritage of Alaska (1967).

References in periodicals archive ?
After almost a century of nonstop exploitation and abuse, with forests disappearing and food security under threat, the Haida people said enough, and like, many other First Nations in western Canada, began to resist, in one way or another, the 250-year-old imperial aggression against their rights, resources, title, and sovereignty.
The most important of these is the cedar which, since time immemorial, has played a central role in the economy and culture of the Haida people.
Today, approximately 2000 Haida people still practice traditional customs and live off of the fish they catch daily.
Parks Canada has taken this opportunity to share the rich heritage of the Haida people by touring the totem with Haida representatives who are able to share the story of their people.
Visitors can get a real sense of the history of Haida Gwaii and Haida people and our past, but at the same time the living culture of today.
The Haida people traditionally used canoes in everyday life and the canoes used at Gwaii Ecotours are built by master Haida carver Christian White front nearby Masset.
The Haida people caught the world's attention when they did the unthinkable and asked a British Columbia court to enforce Canadian law.
The 43-year-old member of the Kaigani Haida people of British Columbia is renowned for unique Native fashion designs that highlight her artistic talent in everything from ready-to-wear to exclusive, one-of-a-kind collections.
Beginning with the pre-contact Tlingit and Haida peoples, salmon fishers have always had the potential to harm the salmon populations they exploited.