The Northern Haida, also known as Hydah or Kaigani, are a Native American (First Nations) people of the Pacific Northwest Coast in Alaska and in Canada. They reside in several different villages on Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska. They are part of the
Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes.
The Haida language has sometimes been classified as one of the Na-Dene group, but is usually considered to be an isolate.
They are known for their stylized art forms. For instance, they produce wooden carvings (totem poles), Chilkat weaving, and ornate jewelery. They also produce works of popular expression such as Haida manga.
They desire to preserve their cultural forms and traditions. Culturally, they value their elders, their matrilineal clan structure, and their spiritual relationship to the land and waters. They pass on their cultural history and practices through traditional dances and ceremonies.
Historically, masks were an important part of Haida culture and religious practice. They performed ceremonies, rituals and dances wearing masks. Along with masked performances, Haida people celebrated with communal feasts called potlatches. The potlatch was a big part of social life in the Pacific Northwest. Since the Haida believed that everything had a spiritual aspect, these gatherings often had a religious atmosphere. They sang songs and told stories, which were passed on through successive generations.
The first Christian missionary to the Kaigani Haida arrived in 1880 (Howkan). Historically, they believed animals were special types of people, more intelligent than humans and with the ability to transform themselves into human form. They also thought that animals (those on the land, in the sea, and in the sky) all mirrored the social order of their own culture. Christianity has largely displaced traditional beliefs, though many Haida still believe in reincarnation.
Pray that the Haida will understand that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people, transforming them internally, and that new birth and being "born again" with Christ is a once and forever experience providing everlasting peace and an eternal home.
Pray God will work in the lives of Haida via dreams, the Word of God, and Christians who come alongside them.
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