Saxman Totem Park, Pointing Figure – Saxman AK

Description

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) relocated the Pointing Figure totem from a village in Southeast Alaska 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 Pointing Figure totem: “The Pointing Figure totem was made for a group of brothers belonging to Raven Bone House of the Raven clan and set up sometime between 1890 and 1900 to mark the grave of their sister on Pennock Island. It was originally placed on top of a short, undecorated shaft. An earlier Pointing Figure post was placed at Cat Island by ancestors of the same group for a deceased relative. Andy Moses, who helped with the carving of this memorial, commented that he had never inquired into the story explaining it, since he was a young man and, like many young men, not interest in such matters.”

The photographic material published here 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.

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 Linn Forrest and Steve Forrest; Brent McKee on July 8, 2017.

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Location Info


Saxman Totem Park
Saxman, AK

Coordinates: 55.31921375211705, -131.5972949799011

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