Saxman Totem Park, Dogfish Pole (Chief Ebbits) – Saxman AK


The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) relocated the Dogfish Pole, also called the Chief Ebbits Pole, from a village in Southeast Alaska to the newly established Saxman Totem Park. The totem was erected in 1892 in memory of Chief Ebbits, head chief of the Tongass, at Old Tongass Village. The CCC set up a totem restoration project in 1938 and Tlingit carvers enrolled in the CCC lead the work.

In the 1961 volume, The Wolf and the Raven, anthropologist Viola Garfield and architect Linn Forrest describe the visual characteristics of the Dogfish Pole: “The contrast in appearance between an unpainted and a painted pole was made clear to researchers by two photographs. A pole photographed in the abandoned village of Tongass had weathered to a silver grey, and every vestige of the original paint was gone. The top of the bear had rotted off, and a spruce tree had gained a foothold in the moist wood. To restore the pole, a new bear was carved and the tail and fins of the dogfish were replaced. Minor patching and repainting completed the restoration. The carving is very shallow, and the figures have a flat look that is not found in earlier work. However, the Tlingit admire the fine, even adzing of the surface of, the dogfish, done by a noted Tsimshian artist. Weathering has partly obliterated the original surface. This is one of the last totems placed at Tongass and clearly marks the degenerative period of the carver’s art.”

Source notes

Garfield, Viola and Linn Forrest, 1961, The Wolf and the Raven, Seattle: University of Washington Press, p. 13-56. 

Saxman Totem Park, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1979, accessed July 1, 2017.

Peninsula Clarion, Saxman Totem Poles Get Facelift, accessed July 11, 2017.

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on July 13, 2017.

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


Location Info

Saxman Totem Park
Saxman, AK

Coordinates: 55.319700602811864, -131.59645544847945

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