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There is no word for "art" in the Haida language.

The Haida are an indigenous people of the west coast of North America.

Art is integrated into the fabric of community life and sustained by the special resources of Haida Gwaii: cedar to carve poles, canoes and masks; cedar bark and spruce roots to make hats; and shells to adorn button blankets and masks.The Haida have strong values and beliefs in their position as "original guardians" of their homeland that was given to them by the "Creator" as a blessing to be cared for and not wasted.

The ocean is a profound source of inspiration for their art. Many of the creatures found on family crest poles and other carved objects are drawn from the ocean. Killer whales, sea lions, halibut, sharks and supernatural beings such as the Sea-wolf are some of these beings of the sea that Haida artists depict.

We are very fortunate to live near a living native culture of master carvers and artists. Haida art is recognized around the world for its monumental totem poles and sculptures; fine carvings and weaving. Over thousands of years, Haida artists have developed a style of design, which they apply to both sculptural forms and two-dimensional art. It is this style of distinctive line and the use of recurring design elements that distinguishes Haida art. About seventy-five Haida artists are currently working in the Haida art tradition both at home, on Haida Gwaii, and in Canadian west-coast cities, such as Vancouver, Victoria and Prince Rupert. In addition to several galleries in Vancouver, large collections of Haida Art can be seen at : The Bill Reid Center , UBC Museum of Anthropology and Stanley Park, in Vancouver and The Museum of Natural History, in Victoria , BC.

"We Haida were surrounded by art. Art was one with culture. Art was our only written language.Throughout our history, it has been the art that has kept our spirits alive" Robert Davidson, t’saalth laanaas clan.

 Week One: Cave Paintings

It has been an eventful week in our Art Literacy class. We have been all around the world.  I would like to thank all of my wonderful students for their great efforts. We began with the story of the discovery of the discovery of cave paintings in Lascaux,  France  and also looked at images from  Spain , where the oldest known cave paintings have been found,  in the cave called El Castillo. The prehistoric dots and crimson hand stencils are now the world's oldest known cave art that dates more than 40,800 years old.

© Serene Greene- Art Literacy Academy
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