|The Next Generation
Recent developments hold great potential for reinforcing the cultural revival of the Haida. The first is the declaration of the islands of the South Moresby group of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) as a National Historic Site focussed on the three ancient villages of Skedans, Tanu and Skungwai (Ninstints). Skungwai has in fact been recognized as a place of premier importance to the history of humankind by the World Heritage Site Committee of UNESCO, although this declaration was never implemented because of its implications for Haida land claims. A group of young Haida who are concerned with their heritage as well as land claims began to control access to and protect the old village sites through an organization called Haida Gwaii Watchmen, whose headquarters are in Skidegate near the Queen Charlotte Islands Museum. Under the watchful eye of Gujao (Gary Edenshaw), this committee issues permits to people who wish to visit Skungwai (Ninstints) and other abandoned Haida village sites.
In 1991, the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognized the southern part of the Queen Charlotte Islands as Gwaii Hanas National Park. This zone includes the villages of Skedans, Tanu and Skungwai (Ninstints) as part of a Haida cultural landscape that should be protected from further clearcut logging activities. Parks Canada has worked out a joint agreement with the Haida Nation to develop the park's vast area.
In the central area of Haida Gwaii, the village of Haina also has been declared a National Historic Site, and on the north coast, all of the villages including Kiusta, Yaku, Dadens and Yan are sites of National Historic Importance. Hectare for hectare, there are more aboriginal sites of National Historic Importance on Haida Gwaii than anywhere else in Canada. In Alaska, many of the Kaigani Haida village sites are protected within American national parks as forest reserves.
The future of Haida art and culture appears to be in good hands with the current generation of talented artists, who are passing their skills on to yet another generation, contributing to the continuation of an art form that is as significant to the arts of humankind as those of ancient Egypt and China.