This was the last village of self-reliant and independent Haida before the inhabitants were decimated by the diseases and excesses brought by the Europeans exploring and exploiting the Pacific northwest coast. Within 20 years of the first case of smallpox the flourishing village of SGang Gwaay had been devastated. From a population of 300 to fewer than 30 survivors the village had ceased to be a self sustaining and self reliant entity.
Ninstints is a colloquial name for SGang Gwaay Llanagaay, or in modern terms Anthony Island. The name Ninstints came from the white European traders who corrupted the name Nan Sdins, the Chief of the village at the time.
The ruins of the village still exist and there are many standing totem poles. It will not be this way for long. The ruins are not being preserved, they will go back to nature through natural processes. The Haida Nation and tradition demand that these be allowed to return to their natural state.
I am of Haida descent, my grandmother was Nettie Nix and great grandparents were Frank and Mini Nix of Hydaburg, Alaska. She lived on Prince of Wales Island, and Ketchikan for a great portion of her life before moving to the lower forty eight. Nettie spoke Haida but was forbidden to speak or teach this language to her children by Alaska and federal laws.
My grandfather Gilbert McLeod, was a Mariner by trade. For the formative years of his life he lived among the Haida while his parents we doing missionary work for the Presbyterian church. As he grew to be a man, he spent most of his life on the sea in one capacity or another. Gilbert spoke fluent Chinook, a trade language used by many indigenous nations on the Pacific coast of north America.
Currently I am working and serving my country overseas.
I stay in touch with my heritage and country by staying involved Haida history , Native American history, art, and photography. My serigraphy projects have led to an exhibition of my serigraphed Haida art in Brussels Belgium. My daughter participated in the Brussels Exhibition as well, she had paintings, and multi-media exhibits. She continues to create from her studio in Oregon.