Tansy Visits the Haida Village of T’aanuu

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 Tansy and her favourite photographer, travelling aboard the schooner Passing Cloud visited T’aanuu Llanagaay twice this summer!

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The watchmen at this site were Mary, Walter and 3 year old Tanu Xoya.  They greeted the visitors at the beach!

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The watchmen pointed out a rock structure which is underwater at a higher tide… a pool  is formed with rock walls between bedrock outcrops and rock piles were built in the middle. These habitats were created to encourage octopus to move in, so they could be easily located and caught for food.  Some people call them Octopus Gardens!

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 Here is a canoe skid, where the stones have been moved aside, so the big canoes could be brought safely to shore.


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Mary and Tanu Xoya led the way into the forest.

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T’aanuu is one of three old Haida village sites Tansy visited that still has visible architectural features. Here is an old house where a spruce tree has grown into the top of a corner post.  One section of root has grown straight down and nearly encased the upright post, part of which has fallen on top of the moss. Another root of the same tree has traveled diagonally along the fallen beam until it reached the earth.


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T’aanuu has more house remains than K’uuna (Skedans) or SGaang Gwaay. In this picture you can see the diagonal fallen beam from the previous picture in the distance. Tansy is looking at the remains of a different house that has a fallen corner post with it’s rear beam still visible passing through a notch in the post. Collapsed roof beams run from front to back of the house.

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This house still has a standing rear corner post with the main house beams visible in the background.

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When you look at this picture closely, you can see the carving near the left end of the pole cradled on the roots of young spruce trees.  It is almost like being in another dimension when you see old houses and poles turning back into trees.

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Tansy marveled at the number of houses this village had – more than 40 houses have been recorded here.

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Moss and forest…

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…forest and moss.  The village is quiet now, but imagine hundreds of people, laughing, arguing, playing, cooking, working; what a busy place it used to be!

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This might be a Sea Wolf called a Wasco by the Haida, or perhaps a Bear, but the watchmen aren’t sure if it was a free-standing sculpture, or was at the top of a pole.



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Tansy talked to it for a while, and it grumbled back to her gently, but did not reveal the secret of its carving.




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Tansy thought this structure to be perfect for Hittys, though there were none at home when she visited. It perhaps cover a well or has some other recent recent use at the site.


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Mary showed the visitors photographs taken in the 1800’s when the village was occupied.

T’aanuu in 1878, Photo by G. M. Dawson, from Canadian Museum of History.


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The watchmen’s flag lets people know that the villages are protected still.


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Tanu Xoya is learning how to be a watchman, and stamps visitor’s passports!


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Tansy doesn’t have a Haida passport, so Tanu Xoya stamped a piece of paper for her!


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The visitors headed back to the Passing Cloud…

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Mary and Tanu Xoya stayed behind to protect the site…



Yummy nut treats awaited on the boat for the visitors to eat while they digested their Haida village experiences.



16 thoughts on “Tansy Visits the Haida Village of T’aanuu

  1. Thank you Tansy and Photographer for sharing wonderful photos of places that the Bonsai HIttys will probably never get to see in person!!

    • There are many trees and plants for Tansy to talk with on Haida Gwaii, and there were also plenty of guests and staff on the Passing Cloud, as well as Watchmen on shore in the village sites – Tansy didn’t get lonely!

  2. what a beautiful, spirit-full place, even in the photos you can almost hear the voices and the drums beating. Thank you. Love the Watchman program where the people are protecting their history and ancestors.

  3. It is just remarkable that this village was occupied in the 1800’s. Now Nature is hard at work, forest and moss reclaiming the site. So happy to see this site and others being protected and recognized for their historical worth. Wonderful photos and information…and of course getting to see Tansy is always a delight.

    • We are awed by the power of nature, as it inexorably moves back into the villages, and makes the places wild again. We are glad that Tansy was able to see and understand this process, and to meet the watchmen who care so deeply about their own history.

  4. Ditto to all of the above comments. Viewing the trees reclaiming their birthright is a powerful thing to witness. The stories you have shared are a touching spiritual experience. Thank You.

    • You are welcome. Most of the Hittys and their human have led their lives in different ways, but we are grateful too, as Tansy and her favourite photographer revisit these places with us through their photos and storytelling! Our sense of the places is so vivid now!

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