Daajing Giids, Graham Island

Daajing Giids, Graham Island

by | Jun 5, 2023

Daajing Giids was historically known as the village of Queen Charlotte and is situated on the northern shore of Skidegate Inlet on Graham Island in the Haida Gwaii archipelago, about 104 miles (167 km) southwest of Prince Rupert and 52 miles (84 km) south of Masset, British Columbia. Haida Gwaii consists of Graham Island in the north and Moresby Island in the south, and over a hundred smaller islands, and collectively were known as the Queen Charlotte Islands from 1787 until 2010. The archipelago was named in 1787 by Captain George Dixon after his ship, the Queen Charlotte, which was named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III of the United Kingdom. Graham Island is the largest island in the archipelago and is separated from Moresby Island by Skidegate Channel. The island was named in 1853 by James C. Prevost, commander of HMS Virago, for Sir James Graham, 2nd Baronet, who was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time. Skidegate Channel is about 21 miles (33 km) long and forms the western extension of Skidegate Inlet, separating Graham Island to the north from Moresby Island to the south, and connects Hecate Strait to the east with the Pacific Ocean. The archipelago represents the western edge of the Wrangellia terrane that was transported by plate tectonics across the proto-Pacific and collided and amalgamated with the Alexander terrane, and then with the Peninsular terrane, to form a composite terrane that accreted to the North American continental margin during the Jurassic time. This composite underlies the southern portion of Graham Island and is bounded to the west by the Queen Charlotte Fault and to the east by the Sandspit Fault. The amalgamated terrane consists mostly of limestones, basalts, and granitic plutons.

Haida Gwaii forms the heartland of the Haida people and the earliest archaeological evidence for human occupation on the islands indicates dates of about 7,000 years ago, although other evidence from the north Pacific coast suggests that the first peopling of the area began closer to 10,000 years ago. These early hunter-gatherers relied on chipped stone technology, including microblades, from specially prepared basalt cores, which provided the cutting edges of hunting weapons. Over time, this culture was transformed into the historical Haida people. The Haida divided themselves into two lineages or moieties called the Ravens and the Eagles. An ethnographic hypothesis based on linguistics, mythology, and the legendary stories of the lineages is that the Ravens may have constituted the original population of Haida on the islands and that the Eagles were immigrants who had origins among the Tsimshian on the mainland and, to a lesser ex­tent, the Tlingit. The first contact with European explorers occurred in the 18th century. In the early 19th century, an epidemic of smallpox affected virtually every Haida village and about half of the population was wiped out. During the 185os, a minor gold rush brought the first influx of Euro-Americans who settled on the islands rather than briefly visiting from ships, and settlement increased with the arrival of resident traders and missionaries. A growing reliance on trade led to the abandonment of the more remote villages, until only Skidegate and Masset remained by the end of the nineteenth century. The Skidegate people, however, seem to preserve the more ancient forms of the language and traditions.

In 1908, the North American Timber Holding Company, with headquarters in Seattle, secured from the British Columbia government a 30 year lease on 57,600 acres (23,310 ha) of virgin timber land around Skidegate Inlet and built a small sawmill. Several of the mill owners, together with members of the Gore and McGregor surveying company, formed the Townsite Company and purchased a strip of land lying to the east and west of the mill. A townsite called Queen Charlotte City was surveyed and laid out with streets, lanes, and residential lots. The operation of the sawmill and mining drew more settlers to the town and in 1909 a hospital opened to serve the community. By 1910, there were three general stores, a drug and clothing store, two hotels, a pool hall, a boarding house, a barbershop, and the newspaper were all operational within a year. The first school classes were held in September 1909 in a room above the pool hall, and at the beginning of October, a new Methodist Church building was opened. Several of the buildings from these early times are still in use today. The sawmill was put into operation again towards the latter part of World War I to mill clear Sitka spruce for airplane lumber. Mining and especially fishing were historically important sources of income for the residents of Queen Charlotte village. In 2022, the village name was changed to Daajing Giids. Many residents still work in resource extraction jobs, but the economy is gradually shifting towards more tourism-oriented employment. Read more here and here. Explore more of Daajing Giids and Graham Island here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2022 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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