SGang Gwaay XIV


At SGang Gwaay last November.


These are mortuary poles along the front of the UNESCO World Heritage Site on an island on the south-west side of Gwaii Haanas


If you don’t know where SGang Gwaay is, check out this map (here)  and if you use the “street view” yellow person icon you can take a virtual tour along the trail through the village.


Click the SGang Gwaay tag at the bottom of this post (or just click here) to see many more images taken during many visits while working in Gwaii Haanas.





9 thoughts on “SGang Gwaay XIV

  1. Pingback: SGang Gwaay XV | burnt embers

  2. There is tremendous unity in the poles and their setting; this photo seems to highlight that. It’s sad that the poles are deteriorating, but they are wood and they are in a wet place, and at least they’ll deteriorate naturally, and return to the earth, just as a cedar stump would, don’t you think? Or do I have it wrong?


    • Hi Lynn. You have it right. If a pole falls, it is not culturally appropriate to stand it back up, even one in good condition. They are left to rot. Speaking of stumps, there are many, a whole forest in fact, of cedar stumps behind the village, dating from when the village was occupied. And they are rotting too, and in another half century many will no longer be recognisable.


      • ehpem, what do you mean by “a whole forest in fact, of cedar stumps behind the village”? If the implication/thought that residents had felled those cedars for different uses?


      • Hi Chris. Yes, the stumps are from felled trees. All the recognisable stumps are cedar and there are many of them. However, there could have been other species that don’t preserve as well as cedar does – some stumps are too rotten to tell their species. Due to exposure to high winter winds I am not sure that the cedar would have been suitable for making large objects, like house planks, canoes or house beams as they very likely were twisted with multiple tops and large lateral branches (a few stumps are cut above such branches). However, they were clearly useful for other smaller things, and failing that, for firewood.


    • Thanks you so much, the light was particularly good. I excused myself from the work for half an hour when I could see how good the light was. There were not many days with good light – mostly overcast and very flat lighting.


    • Hi raqmaq. I first went there in the early 90s. I don’t have any photos from then, that i can find anyway, but it has deteriorated a lot. Since I have been making frequent visits in the past 8 years or so, there is a noticeable difference. It seems to me deterioration is speeding up, and I fear that the next decade or two will see significant loss through decay that is made worse by storms and the like.


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