Stolen Spirits of Haida Gwaii

Stolen Spirits of Haida Gwaii

Feature | 86 minutes| History Television | 2004

Stolen Spirits of Haida Gwaii

After the Haida were forced, by disease, to abandon some 35 of their ancient villages, their islands became a paradise for the relic hunters of the early 20th century, greedy for the totem poles and masks that were – and are – desired by museums all over the world.

Unbeknownst to the Haida, these adventurers also dug up graves and looted mortuary poles, taking away hundreds of skeletons to be used in a bizarre and ultimately futile scientific quest. Not until the early 1990s did the young people of Haida Gwaii learn that the remains of their ancestors – along with more than 100,000 from other tribes -- were in museum basements. When they found this out, they decided to do something about it.

STOLEN SPIRITS OF HAIDA GWAII follows the Haida through a fascinating process of relearning their culture and an incredible journey which takes them to Chicago and, ultimately, to a reconciliation with the descendents of the scientists who robbed the islands’ graves a century ago.

Awards

  • Gold Ribbon Award, Canadian Association of Broadcasters - Aboriginal Programming, 2006
  • Grand Prix Rigoberta Menchu, Montreal First People's Festival, 2005
  • Best Direction in a Documentary Program, Gemini Awards, 2005
  • Best History Documentary Program, Gemini Awards, 2005