Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The traditional economy rested on a combination of fishing, shellfish gathering, hunting, and the gathering of plant foods. Because of seasonal variations in food availability, much effort was expended on extracting as much food as possible and preserving foodstuffs by drying, smoking, wrapping in grease, and so on for use in lean seasons. Halibut and salmon were the most important preserved foods (by drying, smoking), and sea mammals (which were also preserved) were more important than land mammals for food. Dozens of species of berries, plant stalks, tree fibers, seaweed, and roots were harvested and preserved. Current jobs and sources of income include the Commercial fishing industry (fishing and fish and shellfish processing), logging, and arts and crafts (wood carving, argillite carving, graphics, jewelry, weaving, and so on).
Trade. The Haida traded heavily with the Coast Tsimshian and Tlingit. With the former they traded canoes, slaves, and shells for copper, Chilkat blankets, and hides; with the latter they traded canoes, seaweed, and dried halibut for eulachons and soapberries. There was also some internal trade between Haida communities.
Industrial Arts. Wood was used for a wide variety of objects including canoes of several sizes for different purposes, totem poles, houses, boxes, dishes, and weapons. Spruce roots and the inner bark of the red cedar were used by women to twine baskets for various uses and to make spruce root hats.
Division of Labor. Labor was divided on the basis of sex and, to a lesser extent, on the basis of social class distinctions. Women gathered plant foods and plant materials for manufactures, preserved food, prepared skins, made clothing, and twined baskets. Men hunted, fished, made canoes, built the houses, and carved and painted. Both sexes collected shellfish and hunted birds. Fishing, canoe making, and carving were viewed as prestigious occupations. Slaves did much of the heavy work, although people who did not work were looked down upon.
Land Tenure. The lineage was the basic property-owning unit. Lineages controlled rights to streams, lakes, plant patches, trees, sections of coastline, and winter house sites. Lineages also owned names (personal and object such as canoe names), dances, songs, stories, and crest figures.