Northwest Coast Native Dugout Canoe Project

Artists TJ Young and Jerrod Galanin work on the underside of the canoe.
Artists TJ Young and Jerrod Galanin work on the underside of the canoe.

NPS Photo: Fulton

Resting on supports in the carving shed at Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center, a giant red cedar log from Prince of Wales Island is undergoing a transformation. Master craftsman Steve Brown and his apprentices TJ Young, Tommy Joseph, and Jerrod and Nick Galanin are busy hollowing out this massive tree into a 25-foot long Tlingit dugout canoe. The carvers will transform this single log into a seafaring canoe in the same way their ancestors did thousands of years ago.

Finely crafted dugout canoes have long been an essential component of Southeast Alaska Native culture. Before the modern era, dugout canoes were functional necessities as well as revered art objects, serving as the primary transportation method for trading, seasonal travel, hunting, fishing and gathering. This carving project, which is funded by the National Park Service and the Sealaska Heritage Institute, seeks to preserve and perpetuate an art form that is central to the Southeast Alaska Native culture.

Visitors are invited to stop by the park's visitor center to see the carvers at work, ask questions, and experience firsthand the log's incredible transformation. The carvers are at work daily between 9am and 3pm. For more information about this project or to schedule a program with the carvers, please contact Ryan Carpenter at 907-747-0121.

Last updated: June 6, 2016

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