Ancient Canada
The far north of Canada is home to the Inuit, one of the few ancient cultures that adapted to the remote frozen tundra of the Arctic circle, as well as many other peoples of the great boreal forests

Canada

The Inuit and Native Cultures of Canada

Polychrome Wood Face Mask, Tsimshian People, British Columbia, 19th Century

Canada is home to one of the largest temperate forests in the world, and further north the arctic world of the Inuit, the last indigenous people of North America to preserve a traditional way of life till this day. The First Nations of Canada do not comprise one single ethnicity, but are perhaps the result of several subsequent migrations that reached the Americas over a succession of thirty thousand years. The Inuit may perhaps be the people who settled during the last of these Siberian migrations, and they established a rich cultural legacy on one of the most hospitable places on earth. the far north is a extremely frigid environment where darkness rules for half the year, and sustenance has to be taken form the rich wildlife of the seas. Further south some of the most developed societies of native peoples populated the pacific coasts, creating a sea faring culture that has been prized through the appreciation of their artistic legacy in carvings, totem poles, and long houses.

The Inuit Origins

This Inuit woman from the western coast of Hudson Bay, wears clothing heavily decorated with beads and other trade items

The Inuit are the aboriginal inhabitants of the North American Arctic, from Bering Strait to East Greenland, a distance of over 6000 kilometers. As well as Arctic Canada, Inuit also live in northern Alaska and Greenland, and have close relatives in Russia. They are united by a common cultural heritage and a common language. Until recently, outsiders called the Inuit "Eskimo." Now they prefer their own term, "Inuit," meaning simply "people." There are about 40,000 Inuit in Canada. Beginning about a thousand years ago, these early Inuit began to spread east into Arctic Canada.

Within a few hundred years, they had replaced the earlier inhabitants of the region, a now-extinct people known to the Inuit as Tunit. This Inuit migration was not a single mass event, but probably involved dozens of small parties of perhaps 20 or 30 people moving east in search of a better life. A particular goal seems to have been the rich whaling grounds around Baffin and Somerset islands. Here they quickly replicated the large whaling villages and prosperous way of life they had left behind in Alaska. Other groups settled in coastal areas without rich whale resources, where they lived in smaller villages and depended primarily upon seals, caribou and fish. Everywhere they went, Inuit pioneers brought with them the heavy sod winter houses and elaborate hunting technology of their Alaskan ancestors.

The Thule Culture of Greenland

Inuit hunter from early Thule culture

The Thule are the prehistoric ancestors of the Inuit who now live in northern Labrador. (The name comes from a small community in northwestern Greenland where the culture was first classified.) Thule culture appears to have grown out of an exchange of ideas, and perhaps peoples, from the Bering Sea and the north coast of Alaska just before about 1000 years ago. Many archaeologists believe that around 1000 years ago, as the climate of the earth warmed, leads opened up in the ice of the Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf allowing these north Alaskan people to follow bowhead whales eastward in the summer.

The Thule culture, as archaeologists would call it, rapidly spread out across the Canadian Arctic and eventually to Greenland and Labrador. Members of the Thule culture developed a remarkable technology to deal with the Arctic. In a region where Europeans and their descendants have never been able to live without outside assistance, the Thule people flourished. They were able to use the bones, teeth and skins of the animals they killed in order to hunt those same animals. Large whaling and traveling boats called umiaks were constructed with a frame of walrus ribs covered with walrus hide. Smaller one-person, skin kayaks were also used in the whale hunt. Driftwood was cleverly fashioned into dog sleds which often had whale bone runners, and seal skins were cut and braided into the harness and traces. Sea-mammal bone and ivory were carved into harpoons and lances, and musk ox horn was used to reinforce the short, powerful Inuit bow. Self-pointed bone harpoon.

Areas inhabited by Inuit Culture

This remarkable technology extended to housing as well. In winter, the Thule lived in warm pit houses dug well into the ground, paved with flat stone slabs and framed with wood or whale ribs and jaws. This frame was covered with walrus skin upon which sods were piled. Entry into these houses was through a long tunnel which dipped down at its center thus trapping the cold air below the level of the house floor. Inside these houses Thule families could rest comfortably on stone platforms covered with furs. The long winter nights were lit and heated with soapstone lamps which burned seal and whale oil. In the spring, when the ground began to thaw and water accumulated in the pit houses, the people moved into skin tents which would be their homes until the next winter. When hunting or traveling, the Thule built snow houses, popularly called "igloos"--another invention superbly adapted to Arctic conditions. Using special snow knives made of bone or horn, Thule igloo-builders carved blocks of snow and piled them one upon another to create the familiar domed structure so often associated with the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. The heat from a soapstone lamp burning seal or whale oil would glaze the inside of these snow houses with a layer of ice that helped to keep out the cold and wind.

A cutaway view of an Inuit Igloo

Thule hunting technology was as ingenious as their house-building. Their culture was based upon their ability to kill huge bowhead whales that could reach up to 20 meters in length. These whales provided enormous amounts of food that could keep a village well-fed throughout a long winter. To kill them, Thule whalers used umiaks that could hold 20 or so men to bring them to the whale. Once a whale was spotted and the umiak closed with it, a harpooner would thrust a large toggling harpoon into the animal. A series of inflated sealskin floats attached to the line acted as a drag hindering the whale from diving to escape his hunters. When the whale surfaced, more harpoons and lances would be driven into it until the animal was dead. In winter, when land-fast ice made whaling impossible, seal hunters had developed a very effective way of taking animals through the ice. First the hunter would cut a hole through the ice and then place a feather or a chip of wood in the water. When it moved, it was a signal that a ringed seal was coming up to breathe. To keep the water clear of ice, the hunter periodically scooped out the ice with a device that looked like a paddle with holes in it. To attract seals, the hunter sometimes scratched on the ice with seal claws. When the indicator fluttered, the hunter drove his harpoon (a smaller version of the whaling harpoon) into the seal and dragged it up. Often, the hunter fitted a "wound plug", carved of ivory, into the wound to keep the blood, a highly nutritious food, from leaking away.

While hunting seals, a Thule man had to keep warm and dry. A wet foot could ultimately result in frozen toes, and perhaps death through gangrene. Thus the sewing skills of Thule women were as vital to the survival of a community, as those of a male hunter. Waterproof sealskin was used for boots and Thule women sewed incredibly tiny, tight stitches using a sinew thread. (The favored sinew, or tendon, was taken from the backs of caribou.) Holes were pierced in the skin with a bone awl, and then sewed with a fine, bone needle. Where waterproofing was necessary, Thule women sewed a double line of stitches along two pieces of skin that overlapped. When the sinew thread got wet, it swelled, effectively plugging up the holes made by the awl. Leggings and parkas were commonly made of caribou hide. Caribou hairs are hollow and contain air--an excellent insulator. Caribou skin clothing was often exquisitely tailored, light, and incredibly warm. It was far superior to the heavy woolen clothing used by Europeans in the Arctic.

As one might expect, Thule transportation was equally well-adapted to the Arctic. In cold weather, the people used dog teams pulling sleds. These light, strong sleds were usually made of driftwood with whalebone runners. So that they would glide more easily across the snow and ice, drivers would often pour water over the runners; the water froze almost instantly and the sled now had runners that were almost as slick as teflon. On water, as we have seen, the umiak was the preferred vessel for transporting large numbers of people, goods and dogs. Single hunters or travelers, however, used the light, skin boat called a kayak. This too was another invention unique to Arctic peoples. The boatman sat in the kayak with a "skirt" fastened from his waist to the deck which prevented water from coming in and swamping his vessel. Powered by a double-bladed paddle, it was faster and more maneuverable than any one-person European vessel.

This, then, was the technology that Thule people brought to Labrador about 750 years ago. As one might expect, the earliest Thule sites are found in the far north of Labrador at places such as Killinek Island and Staffe Island. Here, Smithsonian archaeologist William Fitzhugh found evidence of what may be some of the earliest Thule people to come to Labrador. Between about 1250 AD and 1450 AD Thule pioneers, whose forebears had almost certainly lived in Baffin Island, established three villages from which they hunted walrus, seal, and birds. These small settlements, perhaps numbering 25 to 35 individuals, appear to have been occupied in the late winter/early spring. The Staffe Island people built two types of houses, shallow, rectangular houses, averaging about 4 x 5 m, and deeper rectangular houses, averaging about 5 x 6 m. The larger houses had paved entrance passages, interior rock roof supports, paved floors, and rear sleeping platforms. Evidence of cooking and small pieces of slate ulu knives (commonly used by Inuit women) were recovered from the eastern side of the house which led the archaeologists to suggest that this was the woman's side of the house. By contrast, flensing knives, and harpoon and lance blades were recovered from the west side of the house, suggesting that this was the men's side.

the bone goggles used by Inuit to protect their eyes from blinding snow glare

In 1989, the Smithsonian archaeologists found evidence of what they believe to be a kashim, or ceremonial house, at Staffe Island. It was oval in shape and lacked a sleeping platform, but instead, there were stone benches along the walls. Relying upon records from the Moravian missionaries, who came to Labrador in the late 18th century, Canadian Museum of Civilization ethnologist, J. Garth Taylor, has found evidence of Labrador Inuit construction and use of the kashim. Such structures were used as communal buildings within which people sang, danced, and carried out rituals important to the survival of the community. The discovery of this sort of structure at Staffe Island provides a useful glimpse at the spiritual and communal life of Labrador's first Inuit. Important locations in Labrador. Illustration by Tina Riche and Duleepa Wijayawardhana, 1998. Staffe Island represents the beginning of the Thule occupation of Labrador. By about 1500 AD, the Thule settlers had reached Saglek, and by perhaps 1550 AD the Labrador Inuit, as they should be designated by that date, had established their settlements in the Nain-Hopedale region. Not long after, Labrador Inuit explorers had reached the Basque site at Red Bay, perhaps in search of the abundance of iron objects to be found at such places. Here, Memorial University archaeologist James Tuck has reported finding a slate endblade, a soapstone pendant, and seal bones used in an Inuit game. By this time the complex interaction between the Inuit and Europeans that is characteristic of the historic period had begun. - Ralph T. Pastore Archaeology Unit & History Department Memorial University of Newfoundland

Inuit Culture: Myths of Canada

Inuit mythology has many similarities to the religions of other polar regions. Inuit traditional religious practices could be very briefly summarized as a form of shamanism based on animist principles.

In some respects, Inuit mythology stretches the common conception of what the term "mythology" means. Unlike Greek mythology, for example, at least a few people have believed in it, without interruption, from the distant past up to and including the present time. While the dominant religious system of the Inuit today is Christianity, many Inuit do still hold to at least some element of their traditional religious beliefs.

Some see the Inuit as having adapted traditional beliefs to a greater or lesser degree to Christianity, while others would argue that it is rather the reverse that it true: The Inuit have adapted Christianity to their worldview. Inuit traditional cosmology is not religion in the usual theological sense, and is similar to what most people think of as mythology only in that it is a narrative about the world and the place of people in it. In the words of Inuit writer Rachel Attituq Qitsualik: The Inuit cosmos is ruled by no one. There are no divine mother and father figures. There are no wind gods and solar creators. There are no eternal punishments in the hereafter, as there are no punishments for children or adults in the here and now. Indeed, the traditional stories, rituals and taboos of the Inuit are so tied into the fearful and precautionary culture required by their harsh environment that it raises the question as to whether they qualify as beliefs at all, much less religion. As Knud Rasmussen's Inuit guide told him when asked about Inuit religious beliefs "We don't believe. We fear." Living in a varied and irregular world, the Inuit traditionally did not worship anything, but they feared much.

Inuit Pantheon

A carving of Sedna, the Sea Goddess

Sedna was the goddess of the sea and the whale was her most magnificent subject. Sedna was a winsome girl who had spurned all of her suitors and married a bird. Outraged, her father killed her husband and took her home in a boat. On the way back he threw her overboard. She clung to the umiak, so he had to chop off her fingers, one by one. Sedna turned into the huge, voracious deity of the Lower World and ruled over all the creatures that dwell in the sea.

Akhlut is a spirit that takes the form of both a wolf and a whale. It is a vicious, dangerous beast. Its tracks can be recognized because they are wolf tracks that lead to and from the ocean.

Malina is a solar deity in Inuit mythology. She is found most commonly in the legends of Greenland. Legends about Malina link her closely with the lunar deity Anningan, her brother. Malina is constantly fleeing from Anningan as the result of strife between the two (legends vary as to the cause). Their constant chase is the traditional explanation for the movement of the sun and moon through the sky.

Malina and her brother Anningan or Aningaaq lived together in a village. They were very close when young, but came to live apart as they grew older, in the lodges for women and for men. One night, as everyone slept, a man crept into the women's dwelling and forced Malina. As it was dark, Malina was unable to tell who it was, but the next night, when the same thing happened, Malina covered her hands with the soot from the lamps and smeared the man's face with it. Afterward, she took a lamp and looked through the skylight of the men's lodge. She was surprised to find that the man was her own brother. So Malina sharpened her knife and cut off her breasts.

Inua or Inuat refers to a sort of soul which exists in all people, animals, lakes, mountains and plants. They were sometimes personified in mythology. The concept is similar to mana.

Inuit and Viking Contact

An early Inuit carving found in Greenland that may represent a westerner or Viking settler in what may be a knight's surcoat

By about AD 1250, the first Inuit had entered Greenland through the Smith Sound area in the far northwest of the island. Here, possibly on the Canadian side, they first encountered medieval Norse ("Viking") hunters coming from the Norse colonies in southwest Greenland founded by Eric the Red.

Eventually these Norse colonies disappeared, probably in the mid 1400s. There are different theories about their disappearance, but a deteriorating climate was one reason. Competition with the Inuit, who were far better adapted to Arctic life than the Norse, might also have been a factor. By the time of later European exploration in the 16th century, the Inuit were in sole possession of the entire North American Arctic.

Greenland was home to a number of Paleo-Eskimo cultures in prehistory, the latest of which (the Early Dorset culture) disappeared around the year 200 AD.

Hereafter, the island seems to have been uninhabited for some eight centuries. Icelandic settlers led by Erik the Red found the land uninhabited when they arrived c. 982. Around 984 they established the Eastern and Western settlements in deep fjords near the very southwestern tip of the island, where they thrived for the next few centuries, and then disappeared after over 450 years of habitation. The fjords of the southern part of the island were lush and had a warmer climate at that time, possibly due to what was called the Medieval Warm Period. These remote communities thrived and lived off farming, hunting and trading with the motherland, and when the Norwegian kings converted their domains to Christianity, a bishop was installed in Greenland as well, subordinate to the archdiocese of Nidaros.

The settlements seem to have coexisted relatively peacefully with the Inuit, who had migrated southwards from the Arctic islands of North America around 1200. In 1261, Greenland became part of the Kingdom of Norway. Norway in turn entered into the Kalmar Union in 1397 and later the personal union of Denmark-Norway and Copenhagen became an administrative control of Greenland. After almost five hundred years, the Scandinavian settlements simply vanished, possibly due to famine during the fifteenth century in the Little Ice Age, when climatic conditions deteriorated, and contact with Europe was lost. Bones from this late period were found to be in a condition consistent with malnutrition. Some believe the settlers were wiped out by bubonic plague or exterminated by the Inuit. Other historians have speculated that Spanish or English pirates or slave traders from the Barbary Coast contributed to the extinction of the Greenlandic communities.

Northwest Coast Culture

A early photograph showing Totem Poles carved perhaps 100 years prior

The Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian share a common and similar Northwest Coast Culture with important differences in language and clan system. Anthropologists use the term "Northwest Coast Culture" to define the Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures, as well as that of other peoples indigenous to the Pacific coast, extending as far as northern Oregon. The Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian have a complex social system consisting of moieties, phratries and clans. Eyak, Tlingit and Haida divide themselves into moieties, while the Tsimshian divide into phratries. The region from the Copper River Delta to the Southeast Panhandle is a temperate rainforest with precipitation ranging from 112 inches per year to almost 200 inches per year. Here the people depended upon the ocean and rivers for their food and travel. Although these four groups are neighbors, their spoken languages were not mutually intelligible.

Eyak occupied the lands in the southeastern corner of Southcentral Alaska. Their territory runs along the Gulf of Alaska from the Copper River Delta to Icy Bay. Oral tradition tells us that the Eyak moved down from the interior of Alaska via the Copper River or over the Bering Glacier. Until the 18th century, the Eyak were more closely associated with their Athabascan neighbors to the north than the North Coast Cultures. Traditional Tlingit territory in Alaska includes the Southeast panhandle between Icy Bay in the north to the Dixon Entrance in the south. Tlingit people have also occupied the area to the east inside the Canadian border. This group is known as the "Inland Tlingit". The Tlingits have occupied this territory, for a very long time. The western scientific date is of 10,000 years, while the Native version is "since time immemorial." The original homeland of the Haida people is the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, Canada. Prior to contact with Europeans, a group migrated north to the Prince of Wales Island area within Alaska. This group is known as the "Kaigani" or Alaska Haidas. Today, the Kaigani Haida live mainly in two villages, Kasaan and the consolidated village of Hydaburg. The original homeland of the Tsimshian is between the Nass and Skeena Rivers in British Columbia, Canada, though at contact in Southeast Alaska's Portland Canal area, there were villages at Hyder and Halibut Bay. Presently in Alaska, the Tsimshian live mainly on Annette Island, in (New) Metlakatla, Alaska in addition to settlements in Canada.

A woven Hat used by men of the Haida in British Columbia, 19th Century

Before and during early contact with the non-aboriginal population, the people built their homes from red cedar, spruce, and hemlock timber and planks. The houses, roofed with heavy cedar bark or spruce shingles, ranged in size from 35'-40' x 50'-100', with some Haida houses being 100' x 75'. All houses had a central fire pit with a centrally located smoke hole. A plank shield frames the smoke hole in the roof. Generally, each house could hold 20-50 individuals with a village size between 300-500 people. The people had winter villages along the banks of streams or along saltwater beaches for easy access to fish-producing streams. The location of winter villages gave protection from storms and enemies, drinking water and a place to land canoes. Houses always faced the water with the backs to the mountains or muskeg/swamps. Most villages had a single row of houses with the front of the house facing the water, but some had two or more rows of houses.

Each local group of Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian had at least one permanent winter village with various seasonal camps close to food resources. The houses held 20-50 people, usually of one main clan. In each Eyak village, there were two potlatch houses, outside of which was a post topped with an Eagle or Raven. The dwelling houses were unmarked. The southern Tlingit had tall totem poles in the front of their houses. The Northern Tlingit houses had fewer and shorter frontal totem poles. This environment is a temperate rain forest. This environment produces many tall and massive trees. Wood was the most important commodity for the people. Houses, totem poles, daily utensils, storage and cooking boxes, transportation, ceremonial objects, labrets (worn by high status women), clothes all were made of wood and wood products. The tools to make the wood into usable items were adzes, mauls, wedges, digging sticks and after contact, iron. To cut the wood people used chipped rocks, bones, beaver teeth, and shells. For light, the Eyak used a clamshell with seal oil or pitch, and a lump of fat for a wick in the sleeping room. Dried ooligan were used as candles. Also, hollowed sandstone with cotton grass fashioned into wicks.

Various means were used to harvest the seasonal salmon runs. Fish weirs (fences) and traps were placed in streams. Holding ponds were built in the inter-tidal region. Dip nets, hooks, harpoons and spears were also used to harvest salmon during the season. A specialized hook, shaped in a 'V' or 'U' form allowed the people to catch specific sized halibut. Various baskets were used for cooking, storage, and for holding clams, berries, seaweed and water. The Tsimshian used baskets in the process of making ooligan (a special of smelt) oil. Basket weaving techniques were also used for mats, aprons, and hats. Mats woven of cedar bark were used as room dividers and floor mats, as well as to wrap the dead prior to burial or cremation. The inner cedar bark was pounded to make baby cradle padding, as well as clothing such as capes, skirts, shorts and blankets (shawls). The Nass River Tsimshian are credited with originating the Chilkat weaving technique, which spread throughout the region.

No central government existed. Each village and each clan house resolved its differences through traditional customs and practices; no organized gatherings for discussions of national policy making took place. Decisions were made at the clan, village or house level, affecting clan members of an individual village or house. The people had a highly stratified society, consisting of high-ranking individuals/families, commoners and slaves. Unlike present day marriages, unions were arranged by family members. Slaves were usually captives from war raids on other villages.

A dancers mask representing an eagle, carved by Haida, 19th Century

All four groups had an exogamous (meaning they married outside of their own group), matrilineal clan system, which means that the children trace their lineage and names from their mother (not their father as in the European system). This means the children inherit all rights through the mother, including the use of the clan fishing, hunting and gathering land, the right to use specific clan crests as designs on totem poles, houses, clothing, and ceremonial regalia.

The Eyak were organized into two moieties, meaning their clan system is divided into two reciprocating halves or "one of two equal parts". Their moieties, Raven and the Eagle, equated with the Tlingit Raven and Eagle/Wolf and with the Ahtna Crow and Sea Gull moieties. The names and stories of the clans in these moieties show relationships with the Tlingit and Ahtna. In the Tlingit clan system, one moiety was known as Raven or Crow, the other moiety as Eagle or Wolf depending upon the time period. Each moiety contained many clans.

The Haida have two moieties, Eagle and Raven, and also have many clans under each moiety. The clans that fall under the Haida Eagle would fall under the Tlingit Raven. One example: Tlingit Raven/Frog; Haida Eagle/Frog. The Tsimshian had phratries (four groups instead of two groups). There are four crests: Killerwhale (Blackfish), Wolf, Raven and Eagle. However Fireweed, Wolf, Raven and Eagle are the Gitksan's phratry names. The Tsimshian Killerwhale and Wolf are one side and their opposite side are the Eagle and Raven. However, the Gitksan have Fireweed and Wolf as their opposites to Eagle and Raven.

All four groups used animal fur, mountain goat wool, tanned skins and cedar bark for clothing. Hats made of spruce roots and cedar bark kept the rain off the head. After western trading, wool and cotton materials were common. The main means of travel was by canoes. The people traveled regularly for seasonal activities such as subsistence and trading. The Haida canoes, made from a single cedar log up to 60 feet in length, were the most highly prized commodity. Contemporary subsistence activities and traditional ceremonies are still essential and important to the Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people's cultural identity.

The water supplied their main food. One of the most important fish is salmon. There are five species: King (chinook), silver (coho), red (sockeye), chum (dog salmon), pink (humpback or humpy). Steelhead, herring, herring eggs, and ooligans (eulachon) were also caught and eaten. Southeast waters produce an abundance of foods including a variety of sea mammals and deepwater fish. Some sea plants include seaweed (black, red), beach asparagus, and goose tongue. Some food resources are from plants (berries and shoots), and others from come from land mammals (moose, mountain goat, and deer). Traditionally, clans owned the salmon streams, halibut banks, berry patches, land for hunting, intertidal regions, and egg harvesting areas. As long as the area was used by the clan, they owned the area. The food was seasonal and therefore had to be preserved for the winter months and for early spring. The food was preserved by smoking in smokehouses or was dried, either by wind or sun. These subsistence patterns are still a crucial part of Southeast Alaska Native people's cultural identity.

Potlatch Ceremonies

Western Inuit (Inuvialuit) dance outside of the Hudson's Bay Company post at Fort MacPherson, ca. 1870

The Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian are known for a ceremony called the "potlatch" and feasts. Potlatches are formal ceremonies. Feasts, a less formal but similar event, are more common with the Haida, in which debt was paid to the opposite clan. High-ranking Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian clans and/or individuals were expected to give potlatches. However, a potlatch could be given by a commoner who could raise his position by doing so. Except in the Haida tradition, the host would not raise his personal status, but rather the status of his children. Potlatches were held for the following occasions: a funeral or memorial potlatch, whereby the dead are honored; the witness and validation of the payment of a debt, or naming an individual; the completion of a new house; the completion and naming of clan regalia; a wedding; the naming of a child; the erection of a totem pole; or to rid the host of a shame. Potlatches might last days and would include feasting, speeches, singing and dancing. Guests witness and validate the events and are paid with gifts during the ceremony. In potlatches, there would be a feast, however, a feast does not constitute a potlatch.

Regalia worn at potlatches were the Chilkat and Raven's Tail woven robes, painted tanned leather clothing, tunics, leggings, moccasins, ground squirrel robes, red cedar ropes, masks, rattles, and frontlets. Other items used at potlatches inducle drums, rattles, whistles, paddles, and staffs. Only clan regalia named and validated at a potlatch could be used for formal gatherings.

The Chilkat robes were made of mountain goat wool and cedar warps. The Chilkat weaving style is the only weaving that can create perfect circles. The Raven's tail robe is made of mountain goat wool. Some of the headpieces had frontlets that would also have sea lion whiskers and ermine. After contact, robes were made of blankets, usually those obtained from the Hudson Bay trading company, adorned with glass beads and mother-of-pearl shells, along with dentalium and abalone shells.

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Under founding of denmark the picture of a statue is not gorm the old, but holger danske/ ogier the dane.
Holger Danske is normally regarded as a Danish national symbol. He is first mentioned in literature as one of the French king Charlemagne’s warriors in La Chanson de Roland from around 1060. In this Chanson he is called Oger le Danois, his name being the only link to Denmark. In the later epos La Chevalerie d’Ogier de Danemarche (1200-1215) he is portrayed as the main character and is described as a son of the Danish king Gudfred (d. 810), an enemy of Charlemagne.

His first appearance in Nordic literature is in the saga Karlemagnússaga from the latter part of the 1200s, which in the main consists of passages translated from French texts. His name here is given as Oddgeir danski. This saga was translated into Danish during the 1400s and thereafter Holger Danske became part of Danish folklore with several accounts in the Danish Chronicle first published around 1509.

The Danish national writer Hans Christian Andersen in 1845 wrote the fairytale Holger Danske, where he is described as sitting fast asleep in the casemates of the Castle of Kronborg, with his beard having grown into the table in front of him and his sword in his lap, prepared to wake up to action in case of Denmark being threatened from outside forces. Today his statue can be seen in the casemates of Kronborg as described by Hans Christian Andersen.

During the German occupation of Denmark in 1940-45 one of the principal partisan organizations was named after Holger Danske.

in Ancient Denmark

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