Early this morning, we visited the ancient Haida village of SGang Gwaay(skung-why). The rain fell fast and furious as we tendered ashore in Passing Cloud’s Zodiac raft, and we had to dress in full rain gear for the first time on this trip. Here in Haida Gwaii, that means full rain jackets, rain pants, and rubber boots. I had brought a rain jacket with me, but had left my rain pants at home, stupidly believing I would not need them. Fortunately, the crew of the Passing Cloud had a ‘loaner pair’ of forest green Helly Hansen’s for me.
SGang Gwaay is also known as Ninstints in English. Usually, European English names for manly locales in Haida Gwaii were a bastardization of the local Chief’s name, typically spelled incorrectly or simply typed out phonetically. Complicating matters was that up until the late 1990’s, the Haida had no official written language; Haida history was passed down from generation to generation orally, through d