The Woodworm Totem at KlawockPhotographed 1939-1945. Edited photo. Original photo courtesy of Linn A. Forrest.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) recarved/restored the Woodworm 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 Tlingit master carvers made a copy of the original pole for the Klawock Totem Park. At the bottom of the pole the figure of the Tlingit Maiden holds is nursing Woodworm. In a 1971 interview by Larry Rakestraw, Linn A. Forrest, the U.S. Forest Service architect who supervised the CCC totem restoration program, described the unusual characteristics of the Tlingit Maiden and Woodoem figures. According to Forrest, the representation of the female figure with breasts is one of only two examples he encountered in the totem art of Southeast Alaska. This figure, Forrest notes, also suggest that intermarriage and the circulation of stories among native villages was common, despite significant distances between them. For example, the story of a woman nursing a woodworm that turned out to be her lover, as well as the use of a ceremonial dish shaped as Woodworm, were common in the Klukwan region, but also appeared at Klawock in modified versions. The figure of the Tlingit Maiden nursing Woodworm at Klawock is such an example. Forrest concluded that despite the approximately 200-mile distance between Klawock and Kuckwan, such exchanges were frequent.
The totem was replaced with a copy in 2011, an occasion that was marked by a three day celebration.
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.
Larry Rakestraw, Totem Pole Restoration, Interview with Linn A. Forrest, August 1, 1971.
Capital City Weekly, Three-day Celebration for the Raising of Five Totem Poles in Klawock, accessed August 18, 2017.
A totem pole is raised in Klawock, Alaska in 1940 during the Civilian Conservation Corps restoration project, accessed August 23, 2017.
Project originally submitted by Steve Forrest (with documentation courtesy of Linn Forrest); Brent McKee on August 22, 2017.
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