The village of Yan is situated in a sheltered cove on the west shore at the mouth of Masset Inlet, only a few miles from Masset. In the Haida language, Yan means “directly opposite a ledge”. According to anthropologist J. Swanton, the village was built in comparatively recent times. Around the end of the eighteenth century, following a dispute between two Masset families, one of which, the Masset Inlet Rear-town People, moved to Yan. Other branches of the Rear-town People, including the Rocky Coast Rear-town People and the Yagan River Rear-town People joined them there, establishing thirteen houses. They were joined, in time, by two related Eagle families from the nearby villages of Widja and Totlka, the Totlka Town Eagles, and from Teets, the Teets Town Eagles who established another seven houses between them.

The village was divided between the eighth and ninth houses in the house row, with the Ravens to the south and the Eagles to the north. The two exceptions are the Gambling House and the Sea Lion House, which belong to Ravens but are in the Eagle part of town.
Yan appeared to by thriving during photographer E. Dossetter's visit in 1881, but within the decade the entire population abandoned it and resettled at Masset. For some reason, perhaps its proximity to the dominant village of Masset that attracted the attention of the early traders and missionaries, Yan was not visited often, and few written accounts or photographs of it survive.
The Swanton and C.F. Newcombe house-lists are in agreement, where comparisons are possible, for all but the extreme southern end of the village.

Panorama by E. Dossetter, 1881. (CMC)

Textual Information for this page: G.F MacDonald, 1983.

Cartouche Artwork: Bill Reid