Totem Bight State Historical Park, The Halibut Pole – Ketchikan AK


The Halibut Pole is a Tlingit pole that honors the Halibut House people of the Nexadi clan. According to a nomination form of the National Register of Historic Places, the Halibut is the only pole at Totem Bight that is an old original. Relocated from the Tlingit village of Tuxekan on the Prince of Wales Island, the pole was reconditioned and re-erected at Totem Bight. It was housed at the park until 1970, after which it was relocated to the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan. The replica of the bottomfish (halibut) at the top of an undecorated post that can be seen in the park today was carved by Nathan Jackson.

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. 71-99.

Totem Bight State Historical Park, Master Development Plan, Department of Natural Resources, 2013, accessed July 15, 2017.

Totem Bight State Historic Site, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1970, accessed July 15, 2017.

Larry Rakestraw, Linn A. Forrest, Totem Pole Restoration, Interview with Linn Forrest, August 1, 1971.

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee; Steve Forrest (with documentation courtesy of Linn Forrest) on July 21, 2017.

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


Location Info

Totem Bight State Historical Park
Ketchikan, AK

Coordinates: 55.42024661761603, -131.7729158914711

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