On a rainy Friday morning at Auke Recreation Area, members of the Juneau and Southeast Tlingit community welcomed the newly restored Yax té (Big Dipper) totem pole.
The pole had been taken down in 2010 to be restored after suffering damage from weather, insects and even bullet holes. The pole was returned to its original home at Auke Recreation Area on June 6 and welcomed by the family members of the original carver, Frank St. Claire.
The pole has been restored twice since its original carving in 1941. Wayne Price, a master carver from Haines, performed this most recent restoration. Price also enlisted the help of Fred Fulmer, a descendent of the original carver.
Fulmer spoke Friday morning during the public unveiling of the pole about how special it was to be a part of this project that held such close familial ties.
The unveiling ceremony was attended by members of the Juneau community as well as members of Juneau’s Tlingit community. The poles restoration was celebrated with guest speakers as well as song and dance.
The pole is now coated in a protective lacquer to avoid insect damage and sits on a metal stand to avoid rot caused by ground contact. The pole is owned by the U.S Forest Service but was restored and re-raised to honor the Áak’w Kwáan people who live in the area surrounding Auke Bay.