Katz Bear Wife Totem at KlawockEdited photo. Original photo courtesy of Linn A. Forrest.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) recarved the Kats the Bear Hunter 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 illustrates the story of a hunter who married a bear. In their 1961 volume, The Wolf and the Raven, anthropologist Viola Garfield and architect Linn Forrest note that the legend belongs to the Seal People of Angoon and Saxman, who are part of the Wolf clan. The original pole had two figures—at the top was Katz wearing a spruce hat, and at the bottom was a figure representing his bear wife. The craftsmen who made a copy for the Klawock Totem Park added a carving of a male bear catching Katz’s two dogs.
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. 141.
Project originally submitted by Steve Forrest (with documentation courtesy of Linn Forrest); Brent McKee on August 21, 2017.
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