Black Fish and Brown Bear Pole at KlawockPhotographed circa 1939. Photo courtesy of Linn A. Forrest.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) restored/recarved the Blackfish and Brown Bear Pole between 1938 and 1940. The restoration was part of a larger U.S. Forest Service program focused on the conservation of totems and Native cultural assets. The pole was originally found at the abandoned village of Tuxekan. With the accord of the former residents, the CCC and the U.S. Forrest Service relocated the pole to the Klawock Totem Park on the Prince of Wales Island.
The figure of the Brown Bear suggests that this pole belonged to the members of the Wolf clan. The pole marks the resting place of a woman belonging to the clan. The blackfish measures twelve feet and forms a headdress for the bear figure. According to Viola Garfield and Linn Forrest (1961), the headdress represents the wooden hat worn by the deceased woman and other members of the clan. Painted with scenes illustrating legends and figures commonly represented on totem poles, these hats were ceremonial and worn during potlatches. Garfield and Forrest noted that no legend was identified and associated with the figures of this particular totem.
Part of the photographic material published on this page by the Living New Deal was provided by courtesy of Linn A. Forrest (1905-1986), a practicing architect who photographed the totem poles at the time of their restoration, between 1939 and 1941. Forrest oversaw the joint program of the Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps to recruit Alaska native carvers in the restoration and recarving of totem poles throughout Southeast Alaska. Employed by the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon, Forrest transferred to Juneau, Alaska in 1937, where he undertook the totem restoration as one of his first projects. Under his supervision, indigenous carvers preserved and restored 103 totem poles and three Tlingit and Haida community houses. Forrest documented the restoration process and maintained notes and a photo record of a significant portion of the work. He used a Leica camera designed for the then new Kodachrome 35mm color slide format.
Garfield, Viola and Linn Forrest, 1961, The Wolf and the Raven, Seattle: University of Washington Press, p. 133.
Project originally submitted by Steve Forrest (with documentation courtesy of Linn Forrest); Brent McKee on August 14, 2017.
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