Sunday, January 6, 2008

TOTEM PARK

We woke up to a beautiful, crisp (22 degrees) and clear day so we spent some time going through
Totem Park.

An excerpt about the park from the Forest Service website:

Alaska's oldest federally designated park was established in 1910 to commemorate the 1804 Battle
of Sitka. All that remains of this last major conflict between Europeans and Alaska Natives is the site
of the Tlingit Fort and battlefield, located within this scenic 113 acre park in a temperate rain forest.

With their striking designs and colors, totem poles are bold statements of the identities and stories of
the people who carved them. A totem pole generally served one of four purposes.

1) Crest poles give the ancestry of a particular family.

2) History poles record the history of a clan.

3) Legend poles illustrate folklore or real life experiences.

4) Memorial poles commemorate a particular individual.

Totem poles did not stand along the park’s wooded trails until 1906. Between 1901 and 1903, several
Native leaders from villages in southeast Alaska agreed to donate poles to Alaska’s District Governor
John G. Brady for the people of Alaska.

After exhibiting the poles at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition,
Governor Brady sent the poles to Sitka where they were erected in the “government park”. Over the
years, replicas of some of the original totem poles have been carved as the original poles deteriorated.
Many of the poles now standing along the park’s wooded trails are replicas of the originals collected
by Governor Brady. The original totem poles that have survived are now conserved and exhibited in
Totem Hall at the park visitor center.


We started the tour with a South Easterly view of town--gorgeous!


Babcia and my youngest daughter look pretty small next to these amazing poles.


There were a few of these Mortuary Poles honoring a dead person.

We were comparing nose sizes...

Back inside the museum
Aren't these people amazing? I had no idea they wore the large rings in their noses, but most of the original
photos in the museum showed them wearing the rings.

Fantastic beadwork...
I hope you can read the sign--this bag was made from a swan's foot!

Wood carver's workshop inside the museum. I have been here when they are carving and I was here once
when they were working on a loom--amazing.

Steps in carving...click on the photo to be able to read them.
Fantastic silver work made here by the artists.

We also watched a 15 minute video about the park and the Tlingit people that occupied this land before the
Russians came and took over. I look forward to going back again and reading more about these amazing people.


3 comments:

Pam said...

This is so AWESOME! Thank you for posting this! The Boy has a book about Indians of the Pacific Northwest and I will use this with him for some home schooling. (He is not home schooled, but we do stuff beyond what he get at school because I feel they can not possibly teach him everything!)
We began the interest when studying Lewis and Clark stuff, and talking about the Indians they encountered. When reading certain books, he just found the coastal tribes so fascinating, and of course they talked about the whole region, not just Oregon and Washington. I look forward to showing him these when he returns home!
Oh... and when i deliver your next cabbage shipment, we'll have to check this place out firsthand ;) This is soooo cool!

teeth whiteners said...

I have dreamed for years about going to AK, and I finally get to go this summer!
This park looks like such a great place, the totem poles are so interesting to view with the different animals and colors. Thanks for sharing this wonderful place and I look forward to visiting your state!

LadiesoftheHouse said...

I am glad you both enjoyed this small tour of the park! I know you will enjoy your visit, especially in the summer months.

Bring your sun glasses--some people think we don't get much sun but that's not true. You might also want to bring light rain gear of some kind too since I noticed tourists having to purchase it here at very high prices since they didn't know to bring any.

Oh, yes, and don't forget to bring cabbage.

Kris