An Era of Change
Governor Brady's Alaska was quite different from the Alaska that existed before the Russians came. Native populations had been decimated by epidemic disease, and cultural traditions were rapidly changing. Towns, the new economic and social centers, were drawing population away from villages. Concerned that traditional art appeared to be disappearing from sparsely populated coastal villages, Brady conceived the idea of collecting totem poles and bringing them to a place where they could be preserved and people, including tourists, could view them.
Between 1903 and 1904, Brady toured southern southeast Alaska's Tlingit and Haida villages by ship, asking leaders to donate poles and other objects for the exposition. After several voyages, he was promised poles from the villages of Old Kasaan, Howkan, Koianglas, Sukkwan, Tuxekan, Tongass, Klinkwan, and Klawock. It was especially remarkable that Brady was given the poles as gifts, because more than one professional collector had tried to purchase poles from these same villages and had been refused. Trusting in Brady and looking to the future, these leaders chose to share their cultural heritage with the world, even if it meant parting with it.