Now that I've become a basketweaver, I've developed a fixation with the iconic hat forms of the Coastal First Nations. Generally conical and broad-brimmed for shedding rain, they speak of lives lived by the seas, under the heavy grey winter skies that I've known all my life. They are the perfect, practical, local-materials solution to the challenges of this climate.
This climate, this land that I love dearly is the only home that I know; my parents were born here, and my grandparents too, and so I identify with the First Nations art as representing 'the place I'm from', but my family can claim no First Nations heritage. Is it wrong for me to make a hat like this?
My Haida friend Giihlgiigaa Tsiij Git’anne says that I can go ahead; he said to me,"You're not Haida, so it won't be a Haida hat, it'll just be a hat". I'm not qualified to delve into the discussion of the politics at play when others practice First Nations art forms with or without cultural permission; I have simply observed that it's loaded territory. And so for now, as much as I might like to embrace a hat like this as my own, an iconic representation of 'the place I'm from', I will defer out of respect for the fact that they carry more meaning than the ones I assign.
Below are some photos that I took of hats that I saw when I visited Fort Langley with my kids earlier this year, showing beautiful examples of plaiting, twining, and the combination of the two. Also a beautiful plaited hatband, which was how the hats were