Kiidk’yaas | “The Golden Spruce” | Picea sitchensis ‘Aurea’ 1700-1997
Kiidk’yaas, also known as the Golden Spruce, was a Sitka Spruce tree, Picea sitchensis ‘Aurea’, which grew off the banks of the Yakoun River in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. The Golden Spruce had a rare genetic mutation which caused its needles to be golden in colour.
January 22 1997, a 48-year-old unemployed forest engineer, Grant Hadwin (pictured above) surreptitiously felled the tree as a political statement against industrial logging companies. Grant was later arrested but disappeared on his way to trial.
The remains of his Kayak as well as personal belongings were found off the remote shores of the Alaskan coast. This area of the coast is sporadically patrolled, being governed for the most part by the enormous seven meter tides and the sub Arctic storms that spiral down the coast of Alaska and batter the tree shrouded face of the coast. Whether he had been murdered for his crime, accidentally drowned, or left his belongings behind on purpose is not known.
In 1977, a group of botanists from the University of British Columbia (UBC) visited Haida Gwaii to take cuttings of the Golden Spruce. These cuttings were grafted onto an ordinary Sitka spruce, resulting in golden saplings. The trees are grown in the UBC Botanical Garden and Center for Plant Research.
Upon hearing of the tree’s destruction, UBC offered one of the young trees to replace the fallen Spruce tree. Unfortunately the sapling died in storage before it could be replanted on Haida Gwaii. In addition, attempts were made to propagate approximately 80 parts of the felled Golden Spruce tree.
This is one of the most important trees felled ever. It was of tremendous importance to the local Haida community. In addition it was the only Golden Spruce recorded in history. It is a dream of mine to give a guitar back to the Haida people using this magical wood.