Nations at War: this is a series about the First Nations. It is hosted by David Lyle. David starts this series by announcing that it is the Eighteenth Century and the world is more connected. This documentary weaves the tales of the first nations, how they each had a quest for power, resources, and survival. Even though these First Nations were different, history seems to indicate that the First Nations had plenty of things in common. Alliances were formed, conflicts came, nations grew and fell. The Timeline YouTube Channel had put together two episodes into one episode.
This episode starts at the Pacific Northwest and the Haida people. Haida people were connected to the ocean like the Maori people. The Haida creation story goes like this, a raven was traveling along the coast and saw some strange creatures. He cajoled these creatures to come out of the shadows. These creatures were the first men.
The Haida nation lived on over 150 islands and 20,000 people lived there. They lived in communities dominated by chiefs. The chiefs found their power on the battlefield and the potlach. The chiefs could demonstrate their wealth by giving gifts to their friends. The Haida people lived apart from other nations. The straights that separated them from the coast were a churning sea. Eventually, the Haida people would create ocean-going canoes. These canoes could take the waves and the rocks along their homeland. Some of these canoes could hold up to 50 to 60 people. The people used their canoes for fishing and war-making.
The Haida built fleets of war canoes. Much like the Vikings, they could strike without warning. The people of the coastlines learned to live in fear. The raiding parties were led by a medicine man who encouraged them on. The Haida warriors wore armor, they had thick hide tunics and wore helmets. This armor protected them. They were armed with a war club and daggers.
The people of the coast developed their ways to protect against the Haida raiders. They used signal fires, palisades, and lookouts. The Haida became rich through raiding and appreciated the power that wealth brought. Eventually, the Haida met with Europeans. The Europeans and Haida started to trade with each other. Then the Spanish started coming looking to convert the people.
Eventually, the Haida would try to play all sides. They were primed to become wealthy because of the demand for pelts. Unfortunately, the cordial relations turned sour. Bloodshed would eventually come to both the traders and the Haida people. Using their skills on the sea, the Haida destroyed naval vessels. Even though there was bloodshed on both sides, trade still flourished. Eventually, the Haida asked for guns and they used their guns on the battlefield. Some leaders got cannons and they would mount them on their canoes.
The Haida grew in power and influence. Unfortunately, with that growth, the Haida would lose their most valuable trade resource. Eventually, the Haida population would collapse due to disease. Dozens of villages were abandoned. The Haida had to accept British rule.
The second half of the episode concludes with the Canyon Fraser War and to learn more about this war continue to watch this episode.
Each episode of Nations at War runs about 22-23 minutes. Timeline had put two episodes together to make one long episode. This is one series I had high hopes for. Based on first impressions: even though these are episodes short enough for the classroom, this series would have been better served with longer episodes. At the end of the Haida episode, I felt that the Haida story was incomplete. I would have like to have seen more Haida sites and I would have liked the narrator to have gone to these sites in person. Talk about the artwork that was important to the Haida people. The Canyon Fraser War is one episode I would skip. Hopefully, I will get a better impression as the series continues.
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