Saxman Totem Park, Raven and Frog Totem Pole – Saxman AK

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Description

In 1938, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established the Saxman Totem Park and set up a totem restoration project. Tlingit carvers enrolled in the CCC lead the restoration process. The CCC relocated the Raven and Frog Totem pole from a village in Southeast Alaska to the new park.

In the 1961 volume, The Wolf and the Raven, anthropologist Viola Garfield and architect Linn Forrest describe the visual characteristics of the Raven and Frog Totem pole:

The Raven poised for flight atop this mortuary column represents the crest of Raven clansman and also symbolizes two Raven myths. The first is the Deluge myth, and the second is Raven’s journey beneath the ocean, both of which are also illustrated on the Sun and Raven pole.

The undecorated shaft symbolizes the kelp stem which served as the ladder by which Raven, with Frog as his guide, descended to the floor of the ocean. He visited all the sea creatures and learned many things. When he returned he taught people that sea creatures are just like human beings, described their mode of life, and reported that they had charged him to instruct people how to use foods provided by the sea.

The original Raven and Frog memorial column was placed at Cape Fox in 1894. When removed to Saxman in 1939, it was so badly deteriorated that it could not be repaired, and this replica was made at that time.

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.

National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 35-TA

Saxman Totem Park, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1979, accessed June 28, 2017.

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee; Steve Forrest (with documentation courtesy of Linn Forrest) on July 7, 2017.

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Location Info


Saxman Totem Park
Saxman, AK

Coordinates: 55.31940605122496, -131.59688460192183

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