This is Lindsey, the mother of the two boys. Steve and I had a long conversation with her as we soaked in the hot water. We talked about the totem poles and other Haida artifacts that were removed to museums all over the world. She spoke of a grease bowl that an ancestor of hers carved, big enough to sit in. And the pride that came from just knowing that existed. Should these artifacts be returned to Haida Gwaii? Is the community prepared to preserve them? Lindsey believed that better connection to the culture would help combat the drug problem in Skidegate. She wanted Haida young people to be able to travel to these museums, to study and learn.
As we spoke with Haida people, we could see the effort to reclaim their culture after the devastation of disease and intentional cultural genocide. In the larger society of the US and Canada, answering the question “Who am I?” has to do with finding your own individual identity and your own calling. Perhaps we’re free to do that because no one has quashed our national values and culture. For the Haida and other First Nations and Native American people, a sense of personal identity—and hope for the future— begins with recovering their identity as a culture.