Klawock Totem Park, Raven and Giant Clam Pole – Klawock AK

Description

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) recarved/restored the Raven and Giant Clam 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.

In their 1961 volume, The Wolf and the Raven, anthropologist Viola Garfield and architect Linn Forrest describe the figures of the original pole, which was in a deteriorated state as of 1941. “At the base of the slender square shaft is a superb carving of the Giant Clam. On the front of the shell is a face, with very large eyes and the mouth at the hinge edge. A formal feather-tip design ornaments the open edge of the shell. The outline of the eyes had been painted blue, the mouth black, and the feather tips blue and black, though careful examination was necessary to reveal which parts of the carving had been painted.“

At the back of the pole there is a niche that contains the ashes of the person to whom the pole was dedicated. The figure at the bottom is the face of a woman wearing a labret on her lip. According to Garfield and Forrest, the figure represents a person who owes a debt to the pole owners. Such carvings were a common way of shaming the debtor into settling the debt.

Source notes

Garfield, Viola and Linn Forrest, 1961, The Wolf and the Raven, Seattle: University of Washington Press, p. 115-117. 

Project originally submitted by Steve Forrest (with documentation courtesy of Linn Forrest); Brent McKee on August 22, 2017.

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Location Info


Klawock, AK

Coordinates: 55.55448580399041, -133.09813463533476

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