Pioneer Square Totem Pole – Seattle WA


This totem pole stands in the middle of historic Pioneer Square, known as the “first neighborhood of Seattle”.

The Pioneer Square Totem Pole stands tall but unobtrusive in the middle of this square. It is actually a replica of a previous totem pole that was damaged by vandals in 1938 and restored by CCC woodcarvers and then restored again in 1972. It is one of three structures that are listed as a National Historic Landmark as well as being a contributing structure in the Pioneer Square Skid-Road District. It’s also, coincidentally, listed as part of three structures in the National Register of Historic Places. The following text is taken from the National Park Service website and describes this pergola:

“In the heart of Pioneer Square, the land from which Seattle’s industrial base grew, stand the Iron Pergola and the Tlingit Indian Totem Pole. This property was originally the site of the city’s first mill, built in 1853 by Henry Yesler. A massive street-straightening project in the 1880s led the city to condemn the land, and then turned it into a public square… The Totem Pole first appeared in 1899, after members of the Chamber of Commerce, vacationing in Alaska, stole it from Tlingit Indians. The men gave the object to the city as a gift, but the tribe justly sued for its return and $20,000 in damages. The courts found the men guilty of theft, but fined them only $500 and allowed the city to retain ownership. In 1938, the pieces that remained after vandals set the Totem Pole on fire were sent back to Alaska, where Tlingit craftsmen (working as CCC craftsmen from the Saxman workshop) graciously carved a reproduction. The new pole was soon dedicated, with tribal blessings, at a Potlatch celebration and has since remained unharmed on Pioneer Square. It now stands as symbol of the complicated relationship between American Indians and European Americans.” — NPS website

Source notes

The National Park Service website credits Tlingit woodcarvers for recreating the totem pole that resides within Pioneer Square. The web link that mentions this info below:

Project originally submitted by Doug Halvorsen on April 23, 2013.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Pioneer Square
Seattle, WA

Coordinates: 47.60205, -122.33390

2 comments on “Pioneer Square Totem Pole – Seattle WA

  1. I was doing a project on Washington when I came to this site and it helped a lot. I think we all should visit this landmark to better understand the history of Washington and the Washingtonians. Plus it makes great pics

  2. Charles Wolley

    The current totem was carved by tlingit master carver Charles Brown

Leave a Reply

Before leaving a comment, please note:

  • Comments allow viewers to share information with others or alert us to errors or changes in a New Deal site.
  • We are not involved in the management of New Deal sites and have no information about visits, hours or rentals.
  • This page shows all the information we have for this site; if you have new information or photos to share, click below.


We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.