Has anyone out there heard of Ta’xet and Tia? If you have, you must be the first person I’ve encountered who doesn’t respond with a blank stare. These two are the duality Gods of death to the indigenous people of Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, representing violent and peaceful deaths respectively. A quick google shows that they each have a single sentence written about them on Wikipedia, which gives you no more information than what I’ve already told you. Aside from that, the internet comes up with pretty much nothing. I found a modern wood carving that was supposed to represent Ta’xet (although it looks more like an isometric pattern to me) and a copy of the old-fashioned Haida calendar which shows the traditional months which they each have named after them. That was pretty much everything.
But despite there being so little information available on these figures, I was still desperate to include them in my novel. The Haida culture is really fascinating and, in my opinion, sadly under-studied. So I set out to find information in any way I could.
I started out in my trusty local library in the nearest town center. It is a sizable place and I was actually able to find one book on Haida folk tales. I got a little over excited but, unfortunately, there was no mention of Ta’xet and Tia. It was just a handful of children’s stories. Next, I headed to the nearest big city to scope out the library there. This place is really something to behold; row after row and floor after floor of countless tens of thousands of books on every topic you could imagine. After some searching and a little help from the librarian, I was able to find a hefty text book on traditional Haida religion (with pictures – yay!). I poured over that book until my eyes were sore and was actually able to find a reference to Ta’xet, although he was referred to only as “The King” in this text. It was a start.
By this point, I was determined that I would get to the bottom of this, so I looked up some contact details for the Haida Gwaii Cultural Museum – way out on the very edge of nowhere in Haida Gwaii itself. I dropped them a message explaining my situation and they got back to me asking about my work. I was actually getting somewhere! Unfortunately, as soon as they found out I was writing fiction, they stopped responding to my messages. Maybe they took me for a time-waster. It was disappointing but there was no point in dwelling on it.
My search still continues and the biggest fruit of my labor so far has been a lovely Haida creationist story about The Raven stealing the moon from Ta’xet and hiding it from him in the sky to nourish mankind. It was said that if man ever abused the environment too much, The Raven will stop protecting humanity from Ta’xet and return the moon to him. How scary!
So, now you understand my struggle, if you just so happened to know anything more about these two, drop a comment or a link. I will be forever grateful.