Klawock Totem Park, Sockeye-Salmon Pole – Klawock AK


The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) restored/recarved the Sockeye-Salmon 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 member of the Wolf clan. The figures of the pole illustrate the fact that the owner of the pole also owned a sockeye-salmon stream in the vicinity of Tuxekan at Deweyville. The owners of the pole, the Wolf clansmen, moved the pole from the beach where it was originally located, to the Klawock Totem Park. Invited by the Wolf clansmen, the members of the Raven clan participated in the moving process.

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: “The bear represents the house owning the riches in salmon. Below is the titular head holding back his clansmen, symbolized by the wolf, so that they will not be greedy with the fish which it is their good fortune to possess. The entrance to the stream is represented by the face below the wolf. At the bottom are salmon entering the stream and others caught in a trap. The distinctions between the bear and wolf are clearly made on this carving by the long tail and sharply pointed ears of the latter.”

According to Garfield and Forrest, the wide-mouth figure toward the bottom of the pole represents the portion of the stream that connects the lake at Deweyville and runs through rocky terrain before flowing into salt water. Another interpretation of the wide-mouth figure is that it represents the basket woven trap used to catch salmon upstream. Below it, at the bottom of the pole, is a carving representing three salmon about to travel upstream. The carving below the salmon represents the catch basin in which the salmon were trapped when the tide receded.

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. 109-111.

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: 55.55430678375794, -133.09777521932676

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