Despite Canadian government laws outlawing potlatch from 1885 to 1952, the traditional songs and dances always remained part of daily social life in Haida Gwaii. Today, Haida song and dance are once again fully inter-woven with art, ceremonies, feasts and potlatches, the supernatural beings and the environment. They help us to enter into a spirit state and bring to life ceremonial objects such as masks, rattles, clappers, paddles, drums and regalia.
Formal dance groups were formed in the early 1970’s and inspired by some of these first dance groups, brothers Robert and Reg Davidson, both renowned Haida artists, formed the Tuul Gundlas Cyaal Xaada, Rainbow Creek Dancers in 1980. Most of the songs and dances were taught to Robert and Reg by their grandmother, Florence Edenshaw Davidson
Robert and Reg began creating beautiful masks and ceremonial objects for their dance performances and with the creativity of other group members, the beauty of the art and the innovation of the Rainbow Creek Dancers became an inspiration to other dance groups each time Rainbow Creek Dancers returned to participate in ceremonies in Haida Gwaii.
“The objective of Rainbow Creek is to bring meaning back to the songs and dances of our ancestors, performing them as they were taught to us by our elders. Following along the path of our ancestors, we strive to continually grow and connect with ceremonies that are relevant today to all people. To do so, we create new songs and dances, building upon the cultural foundation of our ancestors, and drawing upon our collective cultural, ceremonial and professional stage experiences.”
Rainbow Creek Dancers derives its name from a creek that runs behind the village of Massett, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). The creek only runs in the winter, the ceremonial season and traditional time of the year for songs and dances to be revealed.
Rainbow Creek Dancers remains together today, performing in Haida Gwaii and throughout
BRIAN HAWKES PHOTO