[graphic] National American Indian Heritage Month, National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service[graphic] N P S arrowhead, a link to the N P S website

[graphic] November 2004


[photo]
Hydaburg Totem Park
Photo from National Register collection

The Hydaburg Totem Park, established in 1939, preserves the totemic art of Pacific Northwest Coast Haida people. The park represents a unique cooperative effort among the Federal government, local officials and native Alaskans to recognize and protect local Alaskan culture, and enhance tourism. The works of art in the park are associated with longstanding native traditions. Oral histories indicate that the carving of poles, monuments and houseposts is an ancient tradition among the Haida. The totem poles represent the people, their stories and their history. The figures carved on the poles generally represent ancestors and supernatural beings once encountered by them.

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Detail view of one of the totem poles
Photo from National Register collection

Hydaburg was established in 1911 by Haida people from three villages. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), supervised by U.S. Forest Service personnel, created Hydaburg Park, and several other similar parks in Southeast Alaska. CCC workers brought poles to these parks from other locations. The government then hired local Haida workers to restore these totems. When restoration was not possible, replicas were carved. Twenty-one poles were brought to Hydaburg, five of which were able to be restored. The remaining 16 were replicated between 1939 and 1942. Two of the restored totems were so deteriorated by 1971 that they were replaced with replicas at that time. One carved stone figure was also moved to the park. Master carver John Wallace lead the Haida carvers in their work in the 1930s, even though Wallace was in his eighties. Wallace had previously been commissioned to carve totem poles and canoes commercially, including two poles commissioned by the Secretary of the Interior, Ray Lyman Wilbur, for the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC. In 1939, Wallace demonstrated carving slate and wood at the San Francisco World's Fair.

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