(Color: Black or diverse shades of gray / hardness 3-7 / Occurrence: Haida Gwaii BC Canada)
The Haida Nation is renowned for its beautiful "black slate" or argillite carvings. The Haida began carving argillite in response to the early curio trade of the 1820's, amongst British explorers and settlers. Soon the artistic accomplishments of the Haida in the use of materials such as wood, horn, and stone included this new medium. While argillite used to be known as a form of tourist art, it has grown to become one of the most sought after art forms in North American First Nations art. Even today, argillite continues to be carved exclusively by Haida artists both on Haida Gwaii and in the Vancouver and Victoria areas.
It is a popular symbol for romance as they mate for life. Legend says that Whales can capture a canoe, take it underwater, and transform the occupants into Whales. Thus, a Whale near the shore is a transformed human trying to communicate with his family.