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Haida Arts and Technologies

Cedar-Bark and Spruce-Root Weaving

Each nation on the Northwest Coast has its own weaving techniques, styles and designs. Materials vary depending on what is available and suitable for weaving. The roots of the Sitka spruce, plentiful on Haida Gwaii, are one of the main weaving materials in Haida basketry. Weaving is a versatile practice; it is a means of creating items for both household and ceremonial use, and is also considered an art form. Spruce roots and bark of the Western red cedar are used to make baskets, containers and mats, as well as hats and other pieces of clothing. Baskets take many forms, from open-weave baskets that allow water to run through them, to watertight containers that can hold liquid. Historically, woven items were made for trade with other Indigenous nations, as well as with Europeans and settlers.

Weavers are very precise in their work. If they make a mistake, they unweave back to the mistake and restart. Beginners must have plenty of patience if they want to be successful weavers. Traditionally, women have been responsible for weaving, including harvesting and processing materials, and have passed down their techniques through generations. Weaving is still practiced mostly by women, although there are some weavers who are men on the Northwest Coast today.