A rock retaining wall was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1940 with the creation of Totem Square. The “Baranov” Totem Pole, also completed in 1941-42 as a project of the CCC under the supervision of the Forest Service. It was restored in 2010-2011 by local totem expert Tommy Joseph, using the original design drawing by George Benson, a local Tlingit. The Totem Pole has a controversial past surrounding both the construction of pole in Wrangell rather than Sitka as originally commissioned and for the original design, which many viewed as disrespectful and unrepresentative of the region’s history.
A record at the Simon Fraser University Digital Collections summarizes the history of the Totem: “The original intent for the Totem at Sitka Pioneer Home was to commemorate the peace treaty that Alexander Andreyevich Baranov helped broker in 1805 after the battle between the Russians and the Tlingit. The pole was commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service 135 years after a pivotal battle. The pole was made at the request of local Tlingit leaders of Sitka’s Kiksadi clan as a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The pole was carved in Wrangell much to the disappointment of the Sitka tribes since Wrangell and the Sitka tribes had a long history of conflict.”
Millard, L., & Welsh, A. (August 18, 1997). Sitka US Post Office and Courthouse nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Department of the Interior. The Totem Square Project. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Retrieved from http://dhss.alaska.gov/daph/Pages/sitka/totem2.aspx Totem Square. (March 15, 2012). United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Retrieved from http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/r10/home/?cid=stelprdb5357405&width=full Controversial totem pole returns to Sitka square, Ed Ronco, KCAW | Nov 28, 2011, accessed August 2, 2017. Totem at Pioneer Home, Simon Fraser University Digital Collections, accessed August 28, 2017.
Project originally submitted by Susan C. Allen on January 2, 2015.
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