A list of local totem poles

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2010

This list of local totems includes publicly available poles and is not exhaustive. For sources, see bottom of story.

Yax-te (big dipper) Totem

Location: Auke village Recreation Area
Carver: Tlingit carver Frank St. Clair of Hoonah, 1941, and two local carvers employed by the Civilian Conservation Corps

Raven and Eagle Totems

Location: University of Alaska Southeast campus
Carver: Eagle: Haida carvers Joe and TJ Young of Hydaburg, 2010; Raven: Four Tlingit carvers from Haines, 1964, raised at UAS in 1993.

Haa Dachxana'i Yan Kahidi (Our Children's House)

Location: Thunder Mountain High School Commons, 10014 Crazy Horse Drive
Carver: Tlingit carver Wayne Price of Haines, 2009

Fred Meyer Totems

Location: Main entrance to Fred Meyer, 8181 Glacier Highway
Carvers: Tlingit carvers Mick and Rick Beasley
Details: Mick Beasley's totem, is on the left, and Rick Beasley's, Diving Raven, is on the righ. Mick Beasley also carved the totem above Capital School playground (see below). The brothers also have several "culturally modified trees" around town, a form of carving that leaves the tree intact, including three up at the Mount Roberts Tramway and one at the confluence of the Mendenhall River and Montana Creek. Their studio, at 8853 North Douglas Highway, features a carved house post visible from the road.

Kaa Kaatch A Dei Kusawatx.ye (How Our Uncle Would Raise His Nephews)

Location: Vocational Training and Resource Center, 3239 Hospital Drive
Carver: Tlingit carver Wayne Price of Haines, 2001
Details: This pole was carved to honor maternal uncles, who in Tlingit society were responsible for their nephews' training, discipline and teaching.

Aak'w Tribe Totem

Location: Juneau Douglas High School commons, 1639 Glacier Ave.
Carver: Tlingit carver Nathan Jackson, with the assistance of Steven C. Brown, 1980-81
Details: This pole formerly stood outside Centennial Hall, with Wooshkeetaan Pole (see below), also carved by Jackson, but was moved due to the deteriorating effects of the elements. Jackson has a third totem in the Sealaska Corp. Building (see below).

Legends and Beliefs, Creation of Killer Whale and Strongman Totems

Location: Goldbelt Place, 801 10th St.
Carvers: Tlingit carvers Ray Peck and Jim Marks, 1981
Details: Ray Peck also carved the multiple posts in front of the Mt. Juneau Trading Post at 151 S. Franklin St. and one panel directly across the street.

Raven and Eagle Totem

Location: Federal building lobby, 709 W. Ninth St.
Carver: Tlingit carver Amos Wallace, 1966
Details: The totem on the right is labeled "Eagle Totem," but in "Totem Talk," Scott Foster quotes Wallace as saying both poles feature Raven as the top figure. Wallace also carved the "Harnessing the Atom" totem (see below).

Lincoln and Beaver Totems (partial)

Location: Alaska State Museum, 395 Whittier St.
Details: Lincoln: This figure once stood at the top of the Proud Raven Totem on Tongass Island and was believed to have been carved by a Tsimshian artist. Though the figure looks like Lincoln, museum curator Steve Henrikson said the carving is not meant to represent or honor this famous American, but is instead an archetype of a white man modeled on a photo available to the artist, probably used to designate the clan's first interaction with a white man. Beaver: This Tlingit pole originally stood in front of the Flying Raven House in Wrangell, and was purchased by the museum in 1945.
The remains of other poles originally located at the Aak'w village site (Auke Rec), which was bulldozed to make room for the road, are also on display at the Alaska State Museum, Henrikson said.

Wooshkeetaan Totem

Location: Outside Centennial Hall, Willoughby Avenue and Egan Drive
Carver: Tlingit carver Nathan Jackson, with the assistance of Steven C. Brown, 1980-81

Howling Wolf and Raven Totems

Location: Goldbelt Hotel lobby, 51 Egan Drive
Carver: Haines carver David Svenson, 1982
Details: Both poles are believed to be copies of mortuary poles located in a Klukwan cemetery.

Raven and Eagle Poles, Aak'w Tribe Totem

Location: Gajaa Hit, Village Street and Willoughby Avenue
Carvers: Tlingit carvers Tommy Jimmie, with Edward Kunz Sr., Edward Kunz Jr., and William Smith, 1977
Details: The Raven Pole (left side facing the building) is a copy of a pole from Wrangell carved by William Ukas in 1896.

The Governor's Totem

Location: Outside the Governor's Mansion, 716 Calhoun St.
Carvers: Tlingit carvers Charlie Tagcook, of Klukwan, and William Brown of Saxman, 1939-40

The Family

Location: Capital School Playground, Seward and 6th Streets
Carver: Tlingit artist Michael L. Beasley, 1996
Details: Three poles are joined together, each one with a central face, representing members of a family.

Four Story Totem

Location: Outside Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Fourth and Main Streets
Carver: Haida carver John Wallace of Hydaburg, 1940. His father, Dwight Wallace, carved the Wasgo Totem in the State Museum Lobby.

Harnessing the Atom Totem

Location: Outside Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Calhoun and Main Streets
Carver: Tlingit master carver Amos Wallace of Juneau, 1967, installed 1976

The Wasgo Totem Pole or Old Witch Totem

Location: State Office Building, main lobby, eighth floor, Fourth and Calhoun Streets
Carver: Haida carver Dwight Wallace, 1880, installed 1977
Details: This Haida totem pole originally stood in the village of Sukkwan and was carved for the Quit'aas clan.

Friendship Totem

Location: Juneau Courthouse Lobby, on Fourth Street between Main and Seward
Carver: Tlingit carver Leo Jacobs of Haines, in association with carvers from the Alaska Indian Arts Inc. of Port Chilkoot, mid-1960s.
Details: This pole is an enlarged version of a model totem presented to Steve Sheldon, U.S. Marshal of Haines, in 1927.

Box of Daylight and Eagle/Bear Totems

Location: Sealaska Corp. Building, One Sealaska Plaza
Carver: Box of Daylight: Tlingit carvers Nathan Jackson and Steven Brown, 1984. Eagle/Bear: Haida artist Warren Peele,1984.
Details: A carved panel in front of the elevators was done by Jack Hudson, a Tsimshian artist. All three pieces together represent Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures and gives balance to the building, according to Donald Gregory of Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Raven and Tl'anax'eet'ák'w (Wealth Bringer) Totem

Location; Mount Roberts Tramway, 490 S. Franklin St.
Carver: Tlingit carver Stephen Jackson of Ketchikan. His father is Master Carver Nathan Jackson.
Details: This pole was carved on site when the artist was in his 20s. The story relates to Raven, and honors the People of the Goldbelt region. It is also a story of the evolution of the kwáan and as such the artist can occasionally be found adding details to this piece when he is in town.

This list was compiled from various sources including onsite signage, the "Historic Downtown Juneau Guide," (a publication of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum), Curator of Collections Steve Henrikson at the Alaska State Museum, Scott Foster's "Totem Talk: A Guide to Juneau Totem Poles," and Juneau Empire archives, with help from Brian Wallace, Donald Gregory, Rick Beasley and George Reifenstein, and the employees of some of the businesses mentioned.

The Empire welcomes additions or corrections. Contact Arts editor Amy Fletcher at amy.fletcher@juneauempire.com.

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