Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is a Vancouver based artists and designer with a unique take on traditional Haida design. By combining his formal training in Haida illustration with a desire to create socially relevant narratives, Yahlgulanaas (working under the pseudonym Rocking Raven) creates what he calls Haida Manga – graphic novels following a traditional manga format illustrated in a traditional Haida style. Over the course of his career Yahlgulanaas has seen great success both here at home and abroad in Japan and Korea. In early 2007 Seiju, a large Japanese retailer, approached Yahgulanaas about licensing his Hachidori character.

Hachidori is the main character in Yahgulanaas’ Flight of the Hummingbird: a Parable for the Environment, a manga comic (which includes essays by Wangari Maathai and the Dalai Lama) based on a tale of the Quechuan of South America. In Flight of the Hummingbird a fire is ravaging the forest, and while all of the animals flee, a tiny hummingbird (Hachidori) stays back and attempts to put out the fire by flying to a nearby river and then returning to drop her tiny beaks-worth of water on the flames. After hours of traveling back and forth from river to forest with relatively little effect, one of the animals standing by the sidelines asks her why she continues, the hummingbird, feathers singed and wings aching, responds “I do what I can” – a phrase which Seiju plans on printing alongside an illustration of Hachidori on their new environmentally friendly reusable shopping bags.

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