Skidegate Haida Model Village

Model of Skidegate (hlgaagilda 'llnagaay) as installed at Chicago Exhibition, 1893.

Model of Skidegate (hlgaagilda 'llnagaay) as installed at Chicago Exhibition, 1893.

The Burke Museum in Seattle is doing excellent work.  I just found the project which they are spearheading, together with the Haida Museum at Kaay’llnagaay and the Field Museum in Chicago, to reassemble the famous model village of Skidegate (hlgaagilda ‘llnagaay) created for the 1893  Chicago World Fair.  This exhibition was organized by Putnam, implemented by Boas, who hired James Deans (a well known Victoria antiquarian) to collect some NW Coast stuff.  Deans outdid himself by arranging for the carving of a complete model of Skidegate Village  – amounting to some 27 model houses (most with frontal poles), 2 model mortuary houses, and 17 free standing model poles.  (Deans also apparently collected three boxcars of other material including an entire house, canoe and other material, but that’s another story).

The Burke Museum now allows you to view an interactive panorama of the model village.

The website is designed both to showcase these model houses and also to help find the 13 houses and poles which have gone missing.   The intention is to return the model village to Kaay in 2011.  Replacement poles and houses will be commisioned for those that cannot be found.   A highlight are the videos of Skidegate residents such as Captain Gold, Niis Wes, Percy Williams, Kii7iljuus, and Kwiaahwah Jones talking about the model village, about family, and above all about being Haida yesterday, today and tomorrow.

House of Contentment, model carved by George Dickson

House of Contentment, model carved by George Dickson

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