Woody Morrison: "SG̱ÁANUWAA – Wildman" - P.O.W. Report

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Woody Morrison: "SG̱ÁANUWAA – Wildman"

This is a story from the the "Tlingit and Haida People of Alaska" Facebook page, I recommend visiting the group.


A few weeks ago we were discussing Gagiit, as depicted in the movie "Edge of the Knife". I didn't want to confuse the discussion so I did no mention "SG̱áanuwaa" - Wildman.

SG̱ÁANUWAA – Wildman

byDr. Woodrow Ḵáawan Sangáa� Morrison BA, JD

Frequently, when talking about the concept of “Wildman”, we have Haidas referring to Gagíit as “like the Tlingit Kooshdakaa”. The Haida Gagíit is the result of a man exposed to and surviving extreme privation. The person's mind loses all concept of its human-ness and becomes completely animal.

Whereas, the “Kooshdakaa” (Land Otter Man) concept contains aspects of a “shape-shifter”, is a malevolent being that will take human life. This is more closely related to the Haida concept “Sdlagw” (Land Otter Man). This one is also a “shape-shifter” that will kill a man or steal a woman's soul.

Often individuals will refer to Gagiit as “Sasquatch”, again, this is incorrect. I do not know what the term “Sasquatch” means. If a general description is a “wildman”, in Haida we have a similar Being we call “SG̱áanuwaa” however it is almost never talked about, some tabu attached to it.

“SG̱áanuwaa” can be described as “Wildman”, however, there is also a “Spirit” aspect to it. It may be like the Weasel/Ermine. During the summer months, when its fur is brown we call it Daayáats', then, in winter, when its fur is white we call it Tlag.

SG̱áanuwaa has been seen in both dark brown hair and, also in white-gray hair. The difference is that SG̱áanuwaa (almost never talked about) can appear in a Spirit form. Personally, I (and my younger brother) once saw SG̱aanuwáay in the Springtime and I thought it was a bear – dark brown, bent down, over-turning rocks. My brother said to me, “...that isn't a bear..”. I fired a rifle shot into the air. It turned, looked at us, stood up and took off running on two legs.

A few years later, our family had been to Cape Muzon to harvest Seaweed and, on our way back to Hydaburg stopped and anchored for the night at an old Haida village site – G̱aw-Kyáan (pronounced – Howkan). The next morning I went hunting behind the village site. While hunting, I had the feeling something was watching me.

I saw what I thought was a man with a white-ish/grey face peering at me through some bushes. I pointed my rifle at it and said, “Come on out of there or I'll shoot.” It continued to stare at me so [I] assumed it was my imagination and continued walking. The feeling did not go away so I doubled-back around a large tree and, this time the face was dark brown.

I wasn't going to assume it was my imagination and headed toward the beach, careful to not walk too fast. When I emerged from the woods, my grandmother was sitting there waiting for me.

As soon as I was close enough she quietly said to me, “You are not supposed to go up there alone.”

This is the end of the story. (Tláan gyáahlaangáay G̱éidang.)





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