SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

New Replacement Totems To Be Raised


July 29, 2011

(SitNews) Saxman, Alaska - The City of Saxman, Alaska will be raising two 13-foot tall bear totem poles in Totem Row Park on August 6th at 1pm. The poles are replacements for two older Bear Entrance Poles on Totem Row Park’s Frog Wall, which have reached the end of their lifecycle.  New replacement poles will be hand-raised in the traditional fashion. The dedication event will also feature song, dance, oratory, and refreshments. 

Carver Donnie Varnell will be present, along with a range of exciting guest speakers, who will recall the history and significance of Saxman’s Totem Row Park.

Totem Row Park was constructed in the 1930s through a federal Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project.  Totem poles were collected from abandoned Tlingit communities such as Cape Fox and Tongass, then transported by boat to Saxman, where they were restored or recarved in the community's waterfront ANB hall.  In addition to preserving traditional artwork, the CCC project helped facilitate the transfer of carving and restoration skills to a new generation of Saxman residents.  

The completed poles were placed in a new public park in Saxman, where they would be visible to passengers traveling on ferry routes.  The US Forest Service transferred ownership of Totem Row Park to the City of Saxman in 1961.  Since that time, the City has worked to maintain the park as a regional cultural/historic attraction. 

Totem Row Park’s waterfront visibility made it an essential component of the evolution of the cruise ship industry in southeast Alaska.  As the first Alaskan attraction encountered by ferry and cruise ship passengers steaming northwards from the lower 48, the park continues to play a vital role in the development of southeast Alaska’s tourism industry.  The park is a featured waterside attraction of southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage Scenic Byway.  In 2010, Totem Row Park was listed by the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation as one of Alaska’s “Most Endangered Historic Properties” due to the number of poles approaching the end of their lifecycles, and in need of replacement.

Totem Row Park is remarkable for the fact that it offers visitors the unique opportunity to view authentic Alaska Native totem poles within the context of a living, breathing Tlingit community, populated by residents with cultural connections to the poles.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend this traditional pole raising event. 

There is no cost.



Source of News: 

City of Saxman, Alaska


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