UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ts’uu JaasG̲alang hlG̲aajuu : cedar sisters framework Williams-Davidson, Terri-Lynn


There is no framework for the analysis of Haida laws that is grounded in Haida culture. I take seriously the Haida worldview, the Haida conception of Tlgaa K̲’aaysguux̲an SG̲aanaG̲was (the Supernatural Realm), and SG̲aana K̲iidads (Supernatural Beings). From this perspective arises a framework based on the Cedar Tree, who in the Haida worldview, is an Ancient Sister called Ts’uu Jaasas. The conception of this framework was developed intuitively, drawing upon personal experience, knowledge about use of the Cedar Tree, and from observations of the biological functions of the Cedar Tree. I demonstrate the suitability of this framework primarily by drawing upon the ethnographic record of the Haida Nation, with a focus on the oral narratives contained in the work of John R. Swanton. He was an early ethnographer who recorded his work in the Haida language, worked with Hereditary Chiefs, and took the Supernatural Realm seriously. I used a quantitative method to examine the number of occurrences of the Cedar Tree in these narratives, which exceed all other species. I also draw upon oral narratives and teachings from my family, as well as observations of the Haida Nation’s articulation and exercise of Haida laws. These sources reveal that the Cedar Tree connects the land and sea, thereby rooting the framework in Haida Gwaii. This is a preliminary examination of Haida laws, pending further research with the Haida community.

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