Richard Wiese Travels to the Mystical Land of the Haida Gwaii
Words by Richard Wiese, Images courtesy of Born to Explore
My father, who was a Pan Am pilot, instilled in me a sense of adventure and the idea that I was a cultural ambassador. My hope is that my book Born to Explore inspires curiosity and provides the necessary tools to discover and love the outdoors. While filming my show Born to Explore, the question I find myself asking over and over is: In today's interconnected world, is it possible to truly be alone with nature?
In an attempt to embrace the great wild, I recently visited Gwaii Haanas to film the famous giant carved poles of the Pacific Northwest. I was ferried to a remote site known as Skang Gwaii. Truly incredible, it is the resting place of very old, magnificently carved mortuary poles—and the home of the Haida Gwaii watchmen, an ancient and noble group. In a tradition dating back before the Egyptians by thousands of years, the watchmen have been guardians and protectors of the land and its heritage. It is a position of honor, as these poles are sacred and are believed to house the remains of ancestors and ancient spirits.
It was a chance to witness a living culture and to immerse myself in the spirituality of their land. Consistent with my escape from the modern world, the Haida carvings are very mystical, with a Lord of the Rings feel. Reflecting on the Haida people's creed that "all things are connected," I could see the wisdom of their words.
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