Klawock Totem Park, The Dog-Eater Spirit Pole – Klawock AK

Description

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) recarved the Dog-Eater Spirit 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 pole marked the resting place of a man who was an ancestor of Gunya.

The human figure at the top of the pole holds the body of a dog in its hands. Below it is the head of a brown bear figure, which is the crest of the Wolf clan members who owned the pole. In their 1961 volume, The Wolf and the Raven, anthropologist Viola Garfield and architect Linn Forrest describe the symbolic meaning of the figures represented on the pole: “This pole is unique. It is the only Klawak carving […] on which a dog is represented, and one of the very few from the entire totem pole area of southeastern Alaska and the coast of British Columbia. Dogs were never taken as crests nor utilized as identifying insignia by any of the house groups or clans.” For the Tlingit the dog-eater spirit was a powerful spirit that held influence over men.

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.

Source notes

Garfield, Viola and Linn Forrest, 1961, The Wolf and the Raven, Seattle: University of Washington Press, p. 141-145.

Project originally submitted by Steve Forrest (with documentation courtesy of Linn Forrest); Brent McKee on August 17, 2017.

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Location Info


Klawock Totem Park
Klawock, AK

Coordinates: 55.554460012990226, -133.09790128315046

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