Haida Nation hosting peace potlatch

Residents of Haida Gwaii are being invited to bear witness to a historical agreement between the Haida Nation and the Heiltsuk Nation.

Residents of Haida Gwaii are being invited to bear witness to a historical agreement between the Haida Nation and the Heiltsuk Nation next Saturday at the Community Hall in Old Massett.

The two nations will come together on Sept. 20 for a Peace Treaty Potlatch, hosted by the Council of the Haida Nation, beginning at 1 p.m. Those in attendance will witness to the signing to the treaty of peace, respect and responsibility between the Haida and the Heiltsuk, with a feast, dancing and cultural sharing to follow the protocol signing.

This isn’t the first time the nations have come together for a peace treaty, with the first taking place on Heiltsuk Territory back in the 1800s at a time when the two were engaged in violent conflict that wiped out large numbers of the population.

The Haida Chief and Heiltsuk Chief made a verbal agreement to end the conflict and exchanged three songs to recognize the agreement, songs that are still performed today when Haida and Heiltsuk members gather.

The event on Sept. 20 will be not only to celebrate that spirit of peace but to formally enter that agreement into the records. With dignitaries and members of the Heiltsuk attending, it is expected to be a major event on Haida Gwaii.

The potlatch is open to anyone, but attendees are expected to stay for the duration of the potlatch until the gifts are given out at the event and to spread word of what they witnessed.

The Council of the Haida Nation, which has members volunteering to ensure the potlatch runs smoothly, is asking people to bring enough dishes and cutlery for the entire family.

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