Argillite is a fine-grained sedimentary rock, often called “black slate”, and is renowned by the Haida nation for carving.
The Haida began carving argillite in response to the early curio trade of the 1820's, allowing them to trade with early European 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.