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This information was automatically generated from data provided by MOA: University of British Columbia. It has been standardized to aid in finding and grouping information within the RRN. Accuracy and meaning should be verified from the Data Source tab.


Wooden model pole featuring, from bottom to top; a bear holding an upside down frog, a beaver, a wolf, a frog and a bear holding its long tongue with hands. At very top there is a bear crouched over the top of two watchmen. The wood is stained (unpainted).

Iconographic Meaning

As described by Chief 7idansuu (James Hart), this masterful pole carved by his great-great-grandfather represents the following Haida crest and story figures, from the base to the top: a beaver holding a frog, a sea-wolf or sea-bear holding a beaver, a bear holding its tongue with a bear cub below, two watchmen, and a bear cub. Each of these creatures and supernatural beings, intertwined in one long column, refers to specific Haida oral traditions and histories that document the Haida people’s connections to one another and to their origins, lands, and ways of being. The pole resembles monumental Haida totem poles of cedar, but Da.a xiigang also breaks away from their typical structure: he has used the hard yew wood to full advantage, creating a pole as deep as it is wide, and has carved the figures with a fluidity and detail characteristic of his model poles in argillite.


This pole was carved during the period when Indigenous cultural practices were being actively suppressed by colonial forces. Although it was made for sale to buyers who knew little about the significance of its imagery, it nevertheless exemplifies the dedication of Edenshaw and many other Haida carvers who worked to preserve their cultural knowledge for the future. Purchased in the 1890s by San Francisco businessman Hugh Hamilton, who was journeying by steamship between Alaska and California, along the British Columbia coast, this pole was treasured and cared for by Hamilton’s family and descendants for over 100 years. It travelled with them from San Francisco to New York City and Vermont, and in 1973 was inherited by great-granddaughter Peggie Merlin, who immigrated to Canada and moved to Vancouver. Elspeth McConnell purchased it in 2016 with the intention of gifting it to MOA so that it would be accessible to new generations of Haida artists, community members, and the public.

Item History

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