The Amazing Totem Poles of Alaska

Among the most interesting New Deal public works we have ever documented are the Alaska totem poles restored or recarved by Native craftsmen enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Drawing on materials uncovered at the National Archives, we have mapped over 100 totem pole sites. A fascinating primary source is Linn Forrest (1905-1986), the architect who oversaw the restoration under a joint program with the Forest Service. Forrest’s photographs and audio tapes reveal the difficult process of salvaging totem poles from abandoned villages, reviving the art of carving, and preserving Native cultural assets. Thanks to Brent McKee and Elena Ion for their work on this amazing trove of CCC projects.

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