Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1795 Haida sea raider 
Subject: sea raider
Culture: Haida
Setting: piracy, Northwest Coast 1780-1830

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* MacDonald 2001 online > "Haida Villages" > "Warfare"
"The Haida were feared along the coast because of their practice of making lightning raids against which their enemies had little defence.  Their great skills of seamanship, their superior craft and their relative protection from retaliation in their island fortress added to the aggressive posture of the Haida towards neighbouring tribes.  Diamond Jenness, an early anthropologist at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, caught their essence in his description of the Haida as the 'Indian Vikings of the North West Coast':
Those were stirring times, about a century ago, when the big Haida war canoes, each hollowed out of a single cedar tree and manned by fifty or sixty warriors, traded and raided up and down the coast from Sitka in the north to the delta of the Fraser River in the south.  Each usually carried a shaman or medicine man to catch and destroy the souls of enemies before an impending battle; and the women who sometimes accompanied the warriors fought as savagely as their husbands.
    ​"[...]  The florescence of warfare was undoubtedly accelerated in the half century from 1780 to 1830, when the Haida had no effective enemies except the many European and American traders on their shores who would rather trade than fight." ...

* von Aderkas/Hook 2005 p6
"[The Haida] were famous for their ocean-going canoes, which were up to 70 feet long and could carry some 30 warriors.  Warfare was profitable, and the Haida raided for slaves and booty all the way down to California." 

* Jones 2004 p99-100
"Dramatic evidence for the confidence and daring of the Northwest Coast warriors, particularly the Haida, can be read in records of their attacks against SpanishRussianBritish, and American trading ships.  The Indians were not always successful against the muskets and cannons of their would-be victims.  ...  In 1789 the Haida attacked the Iphigenia as it approached the Queen Charlotte Islands, and in April 1791 they assaulted the Gustavas, under Captain Thomas Barnett.  In July 1792 the Indians of Kyoquot Sound unsuccessfully attacked the Hope.
​    "In 1794 the Haida captured two trading vessels, the first a British ship in the Houston Stewart Channel. ... 
​    "In ... overcoming the second ship, the Eleanora, under Captain Metcalfe, the Haida killed all but one of the crew.  The Indian raiders took only a few minutes to accomplish their victory and suffered no casualties.  In 1799 the Indians attacked the Dragon and the Caroline in Norfolk Sound ...."


* Jones 2004 p107
"The Haida ... wore rod-and-slat armor, which included not only upper torso protection but also greaves for the thighs and lower legs.  The front and back of the cuirass were slats, while rods in the side pices allowed more flexibility.  Under this armor they wore elk-hide tunics, and on their heads, heavy wooden helmets.  The Russians found that arrows could not penetrate this armor, nor could a musket ball shot from moderate range, and the Spanish noted that Haida helmets were as heavy as iron."

* Paterek 1994 p311
"'Rod-and-slat' armor was worn by Haida warriors; this consisted of wooden rods that were woven together with a cord of nettle bark; thigh guards were made of the same material.  Under this they wore a tunic of elk skin.  With the armor they may have worn helmets as well.  Armor of this sort would stop an arrow and even a musket shot from moderate range."

* McNab 2010 p202-203
"The suits were designed to provide for a reasonable degree of movement.  Haida armour was similar to that of the Tlingit, and while slats were used for the front and back of the armour, smaller wooden rods were employed at the sides, where they allowed for the body's flexing and bending." 



* Crowell ed. 2010 p231
"Heavy hardwood clubs ... were used to kill seals at their rookeries or to strike them in the water after they had been speared."