Totem Bight State Historical Park, Wandering Raven House Entrance Pole – Ketchikan AK


The Wandering Raven House Entrance Pole is the central totem that decorates the façade and marks the entrance of the clan house at Totem Bight. A 2013 Department of Natural Resources, Master Development Plan for Totem Bight describes the characteristics of the carving: “The pole against the front of the house is called Wandering Raven, named for the legendary Raven carved as the top figure. Raven can be recognized by his straight black beak. Underneath Raven and at his feet is a carved box containing daylight. Below a mink and a frog, the standing figure of a man, Natsihline, represents the story about how he brought life to the blackfish or killer whale by carving it. The figure with the large turned-back beak at the lower end of the pole is Raven-at-the-head-of-Nass, the powerful chief who owned the sun, moon, and stars. Below the chief, the figure with the large labret in the lower lip is Raven’s mother. These figures illustrate the story of how Raven created daylight. Charles Brown designed and carved this Tlingit pole for Totem Bight.”

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

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

Totem Bight State Historical Park, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, accessed July 15, 2017.

Project originally submitted by Steve Forrest (with documentation courtesy of Linn Forrest); Brent McKee on July 19, 2017.

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


Location Info

Totem Bight State Historical Park
Ketchikan, AK

Coordinates: 55.41958136895087, -131.77323708600062

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