Saxman Totem Park, the Grizzly Bear Monument – Saxman AK

Description

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) relocated the Grizzly Bear Monument from Cape Fox to the newly established Saxman Totem Park. 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 Grizzly Bear Monument: “When wood carving began to decline, marble monuments were sometimes used in place of wooden memorial columns. A wooden model of the desired monument was sent to a marble cutter, usually in Victoria or Seattle, and a copy made. Such monuments may be seen in many villages on the Northwest Coast. The marble Grizzly Bear monument exhibits all the characteristics of a conventionalized wood carving, even to knife marks and the stippled pattern left by a finishing adze. A wooden figure of this size would have been mounted on a section of tree trunk six to eight feet high. The grizzly bear is the main emblem of Grizzly Bear House of the Wolf clan, and this monument is the crest of the man whose grave it marked. It does not illustrate any particular legend or historic event, but serves as an identifying symbol or mark. The Grizzly Bear monument was originally placed at Cape Fox by the sisters of the deceased man. It was later removed to Saxman at the request of his descendants.”

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.

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on July 14, 2017.

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

Location Info

Saxman Totem Park
Saxman, AK

Coordinates: 55.31919543786762, -131.5980325873802

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