SHI to sponsor lecture on totem parks of Southeast Alaska
September 9, 2011
Speaker to screen rediscovered 1949 newsreel about the parks
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a noon lecture on Southeast Alaska totem poles that were made or restored during the Great Depression and show a 1949 newsreel about the project that was recently rediscovered.
The lecture will be given by Emily Moore, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. SHI is sponsoring her research through its Visiting Scholars Program.
The brown bag lunch lecture is scheduled from noon-1 pm, Monday, Sept. 19 in the 4th floor boardroom at Sealaska Plaza. It is free of charge and open to the public. Space is limited.
Moore, who is originally from Ketchikan, is writing her dissertation on the totem parks created in Saxman, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Kasaan, Klawock, and Hydaburg and restored in Sitka. The project was launched when the federal government, acting through the U.S. Forest Service and through an emergency relief program called the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), hired Tlingit and Haida men to restore or replicate nineteenth-century totem poles from Native villages.
“The CCC totem parks represent a pivotal moment in totem pole history in Southeast Alaska, transferring poles from the clan houses and gravesites of Tlingit and Haida villages to more centralized totem ‘parks’ geared specifically for tourists,” Moore said.
“At the same time, however, the parks helped to continue carving traditions by employing carvers trained in nineteenth-century apprenticeship traditions to teach a younger generation of carvers the techniques and stories behind the poles. The parks also represented the first major act of government patronage for Northwest Coast Native art in the U.S., and they continue to be important sites for Tlingit and Haida communities today. Despite the importance of these totem parks, however, there is no in-depth study of the CCC project or of the individuals who worked to realize its goals.”
The 11-minute film is titled Timber and Totem Poles and was produced by the U.S. Forest Service.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a regional nonprofit representing the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures.