Many, many years ago a Haida family lived in a village called Yan. In that family there was a boy named Sta-th. He was one of the Eagle clan. He wore an Eagle carving around his neck.


Sta-th’s mother was called Koon-jaat. She was also from the Eagle clan. Her hat had an eagle on top of it.


Sta-th’s father’s name was An-o-wat. An-o-wat was from a different clan. He was one of the raven clan. He wore a Raven crest on his clothes.

Many, many years ago a Haida family lived in a village called Yan. In that family there was a boy named Sta-th. He was one of the Eagle clan. He wore an Eagle carving around his neck.


Sta-th’s mother was called Koon-jaat. She was also from the Eagle clan. Her hat had an eagle on top of it.


Sta-th’s father’s name was An-o-wat. An-o-wat was from a different clan. He was one of the raven clan. He wore a Raven crest on his clothes.


© Rosa Bell

Drawing

A Haida Family

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


One day An-o-wat was fixing their fishing canoe. Sta-th went over to help his father. Soon the canoe was ready. An-o-wat started to take the canoe down to the water. Sta-th asked, "May I go, Father? May I go with you?"

An-o-wat said, "Yes, I will take you. We’ll go as far as Rose Spit. I want to see if there are any more holes in the canoe to fix up."

Sta-th jumped into the canoe. It was a beautiful day for a ride

One day An-o-wat was fixing their fishing canoe. Sta-th went over to help his father. Soon the canoe was ready. An-o-wat started to take the canoe down to the water. Sta-th asked, "May I go, Father? May I go with you?"

An-o-wat said, "Yes, I will take you. We’ll go as far as Rose Spit. I want to see if there are any more holes in the canoe to fix up."

Sta-th jumped into the canoe. It was a beautiful day for a ride


© Rosa Bell

Drawing

Father was fixing the canoe

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


The water was very calm. The canoe moved smoothly through the water. An-o-wat was glad to see that there were no holes in the canoe. The canoe was now ready for fishing.

By the time they got to Rose Spit, the sun had begun to set. They wanted to get home before dark, so they started back.

Sta-th was fascinated with the water. He bent over the side of the canoe. Sta-th watched the clear blue-green water as they travelled. He saw big crabs and pretty starfish. Jellyfish flashed here and there.

Suddenly, Sta-th shouted, "Stop, Father, stop! Look into the water."
The water was very calm. The canoe moved smoothly through the water. An-o-wat was glad to see that there were no holes in the canoe. The canoe was now ready for fishing.

By the time they got to Rose Spit, the sun had begun to set. They wanted to get home before dark, so they started back.

Sta-th was fascinated with the water. He bent over the side of the canoe. Sta-th watched the clear blue-green water as they travelled. He saw big crabs and pretty starfish. Jellyfish flashed here and there.

Suddenly, Sta-th shouted, "Stop, Father, stop! Look into the water."

© Rosa Bell

Drawing

The canoe moved smoothy through the water

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


Sta-th is pointing at something in the water.

They both looked down. They saw the most beautiful village. It looked like their own village. There were lots of longhouses and many canoes. However this village was different from theirs. It had tall, tall poles. These poles had beautiful carvings on them.

They looked at this village for a long time. An-o-wat looked carefully at the poles. He saw a raven and eagle carved on the poles. He saw a bear and a whale, too.

Soon it grew too dark to see. They decided it was best not to tell anyone about what they had seen. People might not believe their story.
Sta-th is pointing at something in the water.

They both looked down. They saw the most beautiful village. It looked like their own village. There were lots of longhouses and many canoes. However this village was different from theirs. It had tall, tall poles. These poles had beautiful carvings on them.

They looked at this village for a long time. An-o-wat looked carefully at the poles. He saw a raven and eagle carved on the poles. He saw a bear and a whale, too.

Soon it grew too dark to see. They decided it was best not to tell anyone about what they had seen. People might not believe their story.

© Rosa Bell

Drawing

Sta-th saw something in the water.

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


The next day, An-o-wat and Sta-th went into the forest. They were looking for a big cedar tree. An-o-wat wanted to make a pole like the one in the underwater village. He wanted to show his pole to the people of Yan. Then he knew they would believe him.

At last, they found a good cedar tree.

An-o-wat and Sta-th began to carve the pole. An-o-wat put a raven on top. Then he carved a strong bear and a killer whale. That night they shared their secret with Koon-jaat.

Each day they worked long and hard on their pole. It took many, many days to finish it.

At last the big day came. They were ready to take the pole to the village.
The next day, An-o-wat and Sta-th went into the forest. They were looking for a big cedar tree. An-o-wat wanted to make a pole like the one in the underwater village. He wanted to show his pole to the people of Yan. Then he knew they would believe him.

At last, they found a good cedar tree.

An-o-wat and Sta-th began to carve the pole. An-o-wat put a raven on top. Then he carved a strong bear and a killer whale. That night they shared their secret with Koon-jaat.

Each day they worked long and hard on their pole. It took many, many days to finish it.

At last the big day came. They were ready to take the pole to the village.

© Rosa Bell

Drawing

An-o-wat and Sta-th built a pole

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


An-o-wat called a meeting with his family. His brothers and sisters came. His aunts and uncles came. His grandfathers and grandmothers came, too. They all came to hear what An-o-wat had to say.

An-o-wat told them the story. Sta-th told them what he had seen at the bottom of the sea. Then An-o-wat showed them the pole.

An-o-wat called for a village meeting. Everyone thought that the Eagle clan should raise the pole. An-o-wat and his family would have to pay them.
An-o-wat called a meeting with his family. His brothers and sisters came. His aunts and uncles came. His grandfathers and grandmothers came, too. They all came to hear what An-o-wat had to say.

An-o-wat told them the story. Sta-th told them what he had seen at the bottom of the sea. Then An-o-wat showed them the pole.

An-o-wat called for a village meeting. Everyone thought that the Eagle clan should raise the pole. An-o-wat and his family would have to pay them.

© Rosa Bell

Drawing

An-o-wat called a village meeting

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


Drawing

Everyone thought the Eagle clan should raise the pole

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


An-o-wat asked the Eagle clan for help. He asked them to help bring the pole to the village. The people of Yan saw them pulling the beautiful pole. They were very excited.

The next day, An-o-wat and Sta-th dressed in their best clothes. They both felt proud of the work they had done. Many people were invited to come and see the pole.

An-o-wat and his family met their guests at the beach. They welcomed the guests with a song.

People came from all over the islands. They came to see the first totem pole.
An-o-wat asked the Eagle clan for help. He asked them to help bring the pole to the village. The people of Yan saw them pulling the beautiful pole. They were very excited.

The next day, An-o-wat and Sta-th dressed in their best clothes. They both felt proud of the work they had done. Many people were invited to come and see the pole.

An-o-wat and his family met their guests at the beach. They welcomed the guests with a song.

People came from all over the islands. They came to see the first totem pole.

© Rosa Bell

Drawing

The Eagle clan brought the pole to the village

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


Drawing

Everyone was excited to see the pole

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


Soon the Eagle clan raised the pole.

All the people went into the longhouse for a feast. An-o-wat’s family gave gifts to the Eagle clan.

They gave songs and dances. They gave drums and rattles. They gave canoes and animal skins, too.
Soon the Eagle clan raised the pole.

All the people went into the longhouse for a feast. An-o-wat’s family gave gifts to the Eagle clan.

They gave songs and dances. They gave drums and rattles. They gave canoes and animal skins, too.

© Rosa Bell

Drawing

The Eagle clan raised the pole

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


Drawing

The people went into the longhouse for a feast

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


There was singing and dancing long into the night.

The sun was rising as the people went home. Everyone was thinking of what they might carve.

This is how the Haida people began to carve totem poles. This is the story of the first totem pole.
There was singing and dancing long into the night.

The sun was rising as the people went home. Everyone was thinking of what they might carve.

This is how the Haida people began to carve totem poles. This is the story of the first totem pole.

© Rosa Bell

Drawing

The Sun was rising

Illustrated by Christian White

© Christian White


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Retell the Haida story of the first totem pole in words and in pictures
  • Summarize one Haida mythological story
  • Appreciate the artform of the totem pole and its importance to Haida culture

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