Woody Morrison: Íihlxaadas húus xíinaangslaang - P.O.W. Report

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Woody Morrison: Íihlxaadas húus xíinaangslaang

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Íihlxaadas húus xíinaangslaang (We Haidas are coming alive again.)

by KÁAWAN SÁNGAA (Dr. Woodrow F. Morrison jr., BA, JD)

Potlatching and becoming YAHG̱IT (pure).

The name for "potlatch" in X̱aad kil (Haida language) is Gyáa isdláa (Giving Things Away)

There are five (5) principal forms of Gyáa isdláa and a limited one.

1) ’Wáahlaal, given upon the completion of a Naay or Naas - House or the naming of a person of High Rank.

2) Sang Náagad, a minor version of ’Wáahlaal in which only a Pole is erected.

3) Sik’áa or funeral potlatch, hosted by the successor of a deceased Chief.

4) Gadáang or vengeance potlatch given by a person of high rank who has been insulted.

5) G̱áan sangáadaa or face saving potlatch, given by a person of high rank who has suffered a mishap in public and wants to restore his honor.

6) Tagwáanaa, a small potlatch given upon the completion of a girl’s puberty seclusion and hosted by her mother(s).

While the basic structural features of the Sik’áa have survived in today’s Headstone Movings, it has replaced the erection of a Mortuary Pole.

Other types of Gyáa isdláa have been discontinued however, some of the ideas underlying them are still alive in neo-traditional ceremonies such as "Namings".

Feasts are given by households and community groups at weddings, immediately after funerals and to honor outstanding individuals and Headstone Raisings given one year after death and to celebrate the beginning of the "food gathering season". No property is given out but guests are given Ḵáwk’ahl - lavish amounts of food, fruit, pastries, etc., to be taken home - no food is left over.

You get to keep only that which you give away.


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