Book Review: The Haida Gwaii Lesson • A Strategic Playbook for Indigenous Sovereignty

Book Review: The Haida Gwaii Lesson • A Strategic Playbook for Indigenous Sovereignty

By Mark Dowie


By April Sgaana Jaad White

100 Pages • ISBN 978-1-9426455-5-9

“An epic story needs an epic writer. From the heart of a nation whose language is distinct from any other in the world, comes a story of intergenerational courage, battle, commitment and joy told by one of the most widely respected journalists of our time. Mark Dowie’s impeccable research, devotion, and love of the word, the people, and land bring an epic tale to paper. From these words, we can all learn.”

—Winona LaDuke, author of All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life

In The Haida Gwaii Lesson, former University of California journalism professor and Mother Jones editor Mark Dowie shares the story of the Haida people, relating their struggle for sovereignty and title over their ancient homeland as a strategic playbook for other indigenous peoples.

For over 10,000 years, the Haida people thrived on a rugged and fecund archipelago south of Alaska, which they called Haida Gwaii. Nicknamed "the Galapagos of the North," the islands are blessed with a diversity of species unmatched in the northern hemisphere. As western Canada was settled by Europeans, the pressure on natural resources spread with the growing population and its demand for fur, fish, minerals and lumber. Industries found their way to the coastal islands, where they ignored native tribes and commenced what has become one the Pacific coast's most monstrous natural resource extraction campaigns.

After almost a century of non-stop exploitation, the Haida people said "enough" and began to resist. Their audacious four-decade struggle involving the courts, human blockades, public testimony and the media became a living object lesson for communities in the same situation the world over.

This fantastic work seems written at the perfect time taking into account our current environment. We live in a world of strategies, ambitions, unconsciousness, and absolute oblivion with our past. The lack of gratitude and the remote recognition that we give in our daily lives to our indigenous, can lead us to make significant mistakes in the future.

This book highlights the persistence, internal strength, constant work and the characteristics of the surroundings of the Haida Gwaii. Life lessons, teachings, and knowledge are what The Haida Gwaii Lesson leaves to the reader.