Birds at the Top of the Spirit of Hazy Island TotemPhoto courtesy of Linn A. Forrest.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) recarved the Spirit of Hazy Island 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 was found in deteriorated condition when it was brought to the Klawock Totem Park from Tuxekan. Only the human figure at the bottom of the pole was preserved. Carvers enrolled in the CCC made a reproduction of the pole for the Klawock Totem Park. The pole originally belonged to the Winter people, a clan of the Wolf phratry. The clan owned a fort on Hazy Island, which is also a bird sanctuary. The Winter people have chosen the bird figure as one of their crests, and use it on totem poles to signal ownership.
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: “Two murres were carved for the top of the copy. They were painted with black heads, brown backs, and white breasts. Carved models of their eggs were pegged to the front of the shaft. The eggs were painted grey with brown, blue, and green markings or green with brown, white, and blue markings, no two of the twenty-six exactly alike. According to legend, the murres spend much of their nesting time painting their eggs so that each pair can recognize its own among the great number lying about on the bare rocks.”
At a base of the pole, a human figure illustrates the story of a spirit that dwells on the island. Those who travel to the island by canoe make offerings to the spirit and pray for good weather.
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. 137-139.
Project originally submitted by Steve Forrest (with documentation courtesy of Linn Forrest); Brent McKee on August 17, 2017.
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