Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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níijaangw “mask”
Language: Haida

Wintertime when I was small they used to dance so much…They did them for fun so they don’t forget them. Some used to wear masks but after white people came around here they cleaned out all the masks. Too bad I didn’t learn the songs.

—Florence Davidson in "During My Time: Florence Davidson, A Haida Woman," 1982

Pulling the strings on this Sparrow Hawk mask makes the eyes move, the beak open, and the tongue rise and fall. Haida dance masks were worn during winter “secret society” ceremonies for the acquisition of supernatural power, and often represented ravens, hawks, puffins, oystercatchers, and other birds. The mask is brightened with strips of copper.

Culture: Haida
Region: British Columbia, Canada
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 46cm
Accession Date: 1885
Source: James G. Swan (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E074751