Argillite is only found on Haida Gwaii, and the Haida are the only ones allowed to carve it. Argillite was discovered in the 1800’s, and was given to the Haida in a treaty. The Haida Carvings of Haida Gwaii along the coast of British Columbia Canada are notable aboriginal art treasures created from a type of a hard, fine black silt Argillite, sometimes called “Black Slate”.
The black slate occurs only at a quarry on Slatechuck Mountain in the upper basin of Slatechuck Creek near the town of Skidegate on Graham Island. At a time, around 1900, it was shipped to Victoria for manufacturing; today the Haida have the monopoly on the use of the Argillite.
This artwork has been of high quality and prized around the world since the Haida first began carving it to sell to sailors around 1800. Modern Haida carvers continue the tradition with stunning design and skill.
When any Haida goes to collect Argillite, they are only allowed to take what they are able to carry away on their backs.