Hours of Darkness.

Down at the quaint harbor, another local—a Haida—said we were out of our minds, that if we wanted to go surfing, we needed to go somewhere like California or Hawai’i. He suggested that we start drinking instead, joining him at a nearby cocktail lounge, where there would be “guaranteed fights.”

Reputedly the Haida were fierce, physically large, historically feared by all other Indians in the northwest. Every Haida we met was extremely friendly, but, back in the day, the kin of these folks would routinely sail across the Hecate Strait in cedar canoes to terrorize mainland tribes, acquire slaves and provisions, and return to Haida Gwaii with the proud gaze of dominance.

“The Haida, and only the Haida, were immune from attack,” Christie Harris wrote in Raven’s Cry. “In consequence, the pride of the Haida shaded even that of their mighty neighbors [the Tsimshian and Tlingit]. They were lords of the coast, the aristocrats of their world.”

While the offer of drinking and fighting proved nearly irresistible, we declined and repaired to a Chinese restaurant where we checked the online forecast and brainstormed between forkloads of MSG. West coast buoys reported a nine-meter swell. Otherwise, things looked grim.