For information and submissions, contact Pat Kramer at

July 21, 2003

Totem Viewing This Summer

VANCOUVER, B.C. CANADA--Located on the cliffs of Point Grey in Vancouver West, UBC’s Museum of Anthropology houses one of the world's finest displays of Northwest Coast First Nations art.

The museum entrance is flanked by panels that create the shape of a Bent-box, which the Salish believed contained the meaning of life. Once inside, a ramp lined with impressive sculptures by renowned modern-day carvers leads to the Great Hall with its massive historic totem poles, feast dishes and canoes from the Kwakwaka'wakw, Nisga'a, Gitksan, Haida, Coast Salish and other Northwest Coast peoples.

Additionally, the world's largest collection of works by internationally acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid resides here, including his famous yellow-cedar sculpture 'The Raven and the First Men.'

Outdoors, the grounds of the museum is where two actual-size Haida houses and ten poles capture the dramatic beauty of traditional Northwest Coast architecture and design.

The museum is located at the University of British Columbia, 6393 Northwest Marine Drive, Vancouver.

July 20, 2003

McMichael Exhibition Looks At Northwest Art and Nature

KLEINBURG, ONTARIO--In this latest summer exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the embodiment of forms explores the concept that disparate Canadian landscapes might in fact unite the nation in a kind of solidarity. Split into three themes, the show moves from the Art of the Northwest Coast to Arctic Images, to the more generalized theme of Overland & Underfoot. Taken together, they speak of how the landscape reveals more about its viewers than hills and valleys. Rarely seen Mungo Martin masks and totem poles created by Charles Edenshaw sit alongside works by A.Y. Jackson, Frederick Varley, and Emily Carr. The McMichael is situated on 100 acres of beautiful conservation land in the village of Kleinburg, 30 kilometres northwest of downtown Toronto. In addition to the collections, the grounds have kilometres of trails perfect for hiking in the spring and summer.V

July 19, 2003

Totems on Tour

SEATTLE WA--Totem poles, compelling icons of Northwest native art, are the topic of Seattle bus tours on Saturday and Aug. 9, sponsored by the Burke Museum and Gray Line of Seattle. The tours start at the museum's exhibit "Out of the Silence: The Enduring Power of Totem Poles," featuring the history of totem carving, plus photos by Adelaide de Menil. Then the tour leaves the museum to visit totem poles at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery, Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market and the Museum of History & Industry. The tour includes a stop at Totem Fish and Chips for lunch. Fee charged. Contact the Burke at or 206-543-5590.

July 16, 2003

Quileutes Unveil Restored Totem Pole

LAPUSH, WA -- The Quileute tribe celebrates its culture with canoe races, a salmon bake, softball tournaments, an art show, dancing and drumming performances--and the unveiling of a totem pole. The tribe will unveil and dedicate a repaired totem pole at noon Friday at River's Edge Restaurant. The 30-foot totem pole, originally carved by the late David Forlines, was restored by Makah tribal member Wade Green. The cedar pole, which depicts a thunderbird, a whale and a bear with a fish, had been in storage for several years after it began to crack, said DeAnna Hobson, Quileute Tribal Council secretary.

July 16, 2003

Totem Being Carved at the Burke Museum

SEATTLE WA-Tlingit carver Stephen Jackson from Alaska brings his chisel and hammer to the Burke Museum for six Saturdays in a row, beginning this week. Jackson, who learned from his father, master carver Nathan Jackson, is creating an original contemporary totem pole about the legend of the Kaats grizzly bear.

The pole will replace one of two totems that recently were repatriated to the Tlingit tribe by the Burke Museum. Visitors can watch Jackson at work from noon to 4 p.m. on July 19 and 26, and August 2, 16, 23 and 30. Admission is charged.

The museum is on the University of Washington campus at the corner of Northeast 45th Street and 17th Avenue Northeast.

July 18, 2003

Annual Event at Pilchuck School Usually Sold Out In Advance

STANWOOD WA --They're gentle, but firm, about their request.
"No visitors without prior appointment" say a series of four signs as you approach a narrow gravel road. The road leads through a thickly forested former tree farm to the secluded Pilchuck Glass School.
So, it's unusual for the public to get to peek around the Pilchuck campus, as they're allowed to do once a year during the school's annual open house. On this one day--July 27--up to 1,000 people get a sense of life on campus. They see world-class faculty and artists who travel to the school from around the globe.

Renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly founded the school in 1971, along with patrons of the arts Anne Gould Hauberg and John Hauberg. These days Chihuly takes a mostly hands-off role and visits the school occasionally.

Visitors at the open house also see a nearby totem pole depicting the school's three founders. The totem pole uses traditional Native American symbols and earthy colors of greens, reds and blacks. It also incorporates glass as a nod to the school; the totem pole was specially made in 2001 for the school's 30th anniversary.

July 14, 2003

Totem Pole Aficionado Tribute

SEATTLE,WA--As a wind tunnel expert for Boeing in Seattle, Michael Dale Morgan, 1935-2003, kept his sensors tuned to the possibilities of flight. From the Dyna-Soar X-20 space plane to the 767 airliner, all took their licks from Mr. Morgan's keen touch. But it was his interest in totem poles that put him in local headlines nearly 40 years ago.

With numerous totem poles in the gardens of family and friends, and at Edgemont Community Park in Edgemont, Pierce County, the most familiar Morgan [-carved] pole is likely the 24-footer on Admiral Way in West Seattle. It has been staring toward Seattle's downtown skyline since 1966, a fixture in Belvedere Viewpoint Park. The Admiral Way pole is a copy of the rotted original, which sat at the same spot and had been a gift to the city from Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on Seattle's waterfront.

Mr. Morgan, his then-wife, Diane, and a fellow engineer, the late Bob Fleischman, made it real again, donating their talents to create it. Diane Morgan's memories came rushing back last week as she, her five children, family and friends made plans to celebrate her ex-husband's life. She recalled that the city advertised for bids and the Morgans' was lowest -- free "if the city got us the pole, the transportation and materials," she said. "I made tracings of the original and we transferred them to the trunk of a cedar tree the city cut for us out of Schmitz Park," she said.

Sarah "Sally" Streeter of Spokane [Morgan's daughter] remembers what it was like when the wood chips were flying [and Dad was carving the totem pole]. "I was either in kindergarten or first grade -- we weren't very big -- when my class had this field trip to see a totem pole being carved," she said. "I remember thinking, 'A field trip to my own garage?' "

Norman Morgan, 72, an electrical engineering consultant from Camarillo, Calif., also can tell stories about Mike, his kid brother. "We always said carving totem poles was a great excuse for Mike and Bob to just drink beer," he said. "They had a lot of fun."

July 13, 2003

Tribal Canoeists Undertake Paddle Journey: 2003

PORT ANGELES, WA--As diamond-shaped cedar paddles dipped into the cold water of the Port Angeles Harbor, the paddle song of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe filled the air. The tribe had been practicing each night in preparation for the 2003 Paddle Journey to the Tulalip reservation near Marysville.

The journey, which starts this week for distant tribes, will be completed July 28 when 50 to 80 canoes from 40 Washington and British Columbia tribes ask permission to come ashore at Totem Beach, near Marysville.

A five-day, potlatch hosted by the Tulalip tribe will celebrate the journey. Other North Olympic Peninsula tribes, including Quinault, Hoh, Quileute, Makah, Jamestown S'Klallam and Port Gamble S'Klallam, will begin paddling hundreds of miles during the next two weeks. Canoes have varied departure schedules.

July 12, 2003

Queen Charlotte Islands Rocked by Notable Quake

HAIDA GWAII ISLANDS, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA --A northern B.C. island chain was rocked by a major earthquake Saturday evening.

The National Earthquake Information Centre reported a quake measuring 5.7 on the Richter shook the Queen Charlotte Island region.

The region is the ancestral home of the Haida people. This First Nations community is famous for its dramatic totem poles and carvings. There is no word yet on any injuries or property damage. The island chain just south of Alaska is also known as Haida-Gwaii and is the traditional home for Canadian-based Haida people.

July 11, 2003

Australian Totem is a Model of Understanding

BEGA VALLEY DISTRICT, AUSTRALIA--Aboriginal employees of the Bega Valley Shire Council along with mayor, David Hede and Aboriginal elder, Margaret Dixon, all stood beside their newly unveiled [small] totem pole outside the council chambers yesterday. This is their third totem pole, the work of Jason Campbell, unveiled at a NAIDOC Day ceremony. Mayor David Hede told the crowd that the shire's Memorandum of Understanding with Local Aboriginal Land Councils was being used all over Australia by other shires who had requested copies as a model.

Hede and Aboriginal elder Margaret Dixon then presented five Aboriginal trainees with plaques. Designed by Aboriginal community development officer, Kerry Avery, the plaque represents the journey the trainees have traveled over the past 12 months. A single flower near the head of a snake represents unity, while its stripes represent the challenges the trainees faced on their journey. Two people represent various negotiations; five flowers represent the trainees blossoming; and the people around the outside represent elders from three Aboriginal communities watching over the trainees during their journey.

July 5, 2003

Reporter Jim Pettit’s Telephone-Totem-Pole Dreams

FAYETTEVILLE, NC–Fayetteville Observor’s staff columnist Jim Pettit was driving to work one morning when the big picture revealed itself to him. While waiting for a stoplight to change, he imagined all Fayetteville’s power lines underground and how the scenery would improve. "If you stop to think about it telephone poles haven't changed much since they were telegraph poles." he says.

"Of course, not all telephone poles bear telephone wires. Many actually carry power lines and pigeons, but we call them telephone poles anyway. Burying all power and telephone lines would be a huge task. So is there anything much you can do with a telephone pole other than paint it in bright colors?" Pettit intoned. "Perhaps we should study how to replace them? What about erecting concrete poles molded in the form of sculpture? Instead of driving along streets lined with unattractive treated wood, we could drive on streets bordered by modern art."

The pace quickened. "If wood is a necessity, why not replace telephone poles with totem poles? Totem poles, I think, got their name from Alaskan tribes who, once they carved intricate faces and designs, had to tote 'em somewhere before they could be erected." Pettit continued. "Our totem poles could be designed with scenes of regional, state or national history carved into them. Historical figures or those prominent in local government or development could also be featured."

He went on. "Remember during the Bicentennial when many cities painted fire hydrants to resemble heroes of the American Revolution? Same deal. Can't you just see a Marquis de Lafayette totem pole? Think how much fun residents and visitors would have photographing totems."

"Just as I was really getting into the idea, the stoplight turned green. But remember, you heard it here first," he added.

July 2, 2003
Vancouver wins 2010 Winter Olympics

VANCOUVER, BC–Vancouver recently won the right to host the 2010 Winter Games, beating out Salzburg, Austria and Pyeongchang, South Korea in two rounds of balloting. About 113 members of the International Olympic Committee voted in favour of Vancouver by secret ballot after a final 45-minute presentation by each city.

Most events would take place in Vancouver, but skiing and other mountain sports would be held more than 130 kilometres to the north at the popular ski resort town of Whistler.

The Vancouver 2010 Bid Corp. says the Games will have a budget of about $1.3-billion. The event will also generate an estimated $1.3-billion in revenues from sponsorships, television rights, merchandise sales and ticket sales. It is also expected to boost the province’s languishing economy with thousands of new jobs and inject fresh life into the hospitality and tourism sector. With First Nations actively supporting the bid, it is hoped that the allocated money will spark the construction of new totem poles and related monuments.

July 2, 2003
Washington State Sequoia to Become a Patriotic Totem Pole

LACEY, WA --Linda Matson was driving Sunday with her son, Tyson Woodruff, when he commented on the tree towering over their former home. He said the current owners would have to cut down the 120-foot giant sequoia before it took out the two-story house. "I never had the heart to do it," she said.

On Tuesday, her son's words became reality as a crew began three days of work to fell the tree, branch by branch, trunk segment by trunk segment. The tree is between 40 and 50 years old. Giant sequoias have been known to grow between 4 and 6 feet a year in good soil. The tree's root system was threatening to deform the foundation of the house that seven tenants call home

Jim Hartwell, who maintains the property, was also saddened by the loss. Hartwell said he intends to have a totem pole carved from the remaining 8- to 10-foot trunk. He's mulling a patriotic theme.

July 4, 2003

Lenape "Totem Pole" Vision Takes In The United Nations

NEWARK , NJ--As an artist, Wilmington College professor Marietta Dantonio-Fryer of the Lenape Tribe said she has creative control of her dreams. But when she had a vision of thousands of totem poles symbolizing peace and the survival of American Indians and other indigenous people, she knew she was under its control.

"When it's a vision, it's like I don't have any control," said Dantonio-Fryer. "Things that shouldn't be happening happen." The vision inspired Dantonio-Fryer, her husband Rik and fellow Wilmington College art instructor Joel Keener to start Totem Rhythms, a nonprofit group that builds totem poles and donates them to tribes in the United States and indigenous groups throughout the world.

Their work became internationally recognized in 2001 at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism. The totem poles have been displayed at the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Conference and Exhibit the last three years.

Totem Rhythms members went to New York last month and, with the help of people from more than 50 countries, created two poles of peace that will be on permanent display at the United Nations building. "It was so beautiful to observe adults and children speaking different languages, working together," said Dantonio-Fryer.

While the international recognition has been gratifying for Dantonio-Fryer, she said it has been even more fulfilling to give back to indigenous people as a way of achieving solidarity. Totem Rhythms' next project will be assembling a pole of peace this month with wood donated by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Virginia. The group also will begin working with Wilmington College for a pole on campus this fall.

John Nold, chairman of the information technology and advanced communication division at Wilmington College, said the pole will have a spiritual impact for the campus and also help promote the college. "We saw it as a natural fit to design aspects of what we do," Nold said. He said the college plans on documenting the creation of the pole and could establish a class on how to create totem poles for spiritual use.

Assembling the poles involves stripping the bark and chopping cherry, cedar, pine and other trees into three sections. Rik Fryer said he does most of the wood preparation by himself, a task that usually takes days. The poles are 7 to 10 feet tall and are divided into the bottom, which represents a tribe's past; the middle, which is the tribe's hope for the future; and the top, which shows the clan's symbol. Bears, snakes, lizards and other animals represent tribal clans.

After the pole is finished, the designers celebrate with a prayer and ceremonial feast. Dantonio-Fryer said the process of creating the pole is in line with American Indian spiritual traditions. Other poles have been created for Cheyney University and Lock Haven University, both in Pennsylvania.

As for her vision of thousands of poles representing peace and survival, Dantonio-Fryer said her work is far from complete. However, the international demand for the totem poles has given her and the other Totem Rhythm members the drive to continue. "Everything has come together so fast," she said. "This has been so huge for us."

July 2, 2003

Future Uncertain For Well-Known Totem Pole

JASPER, ALBERTA- There is a chance Jasper* could lose its trademark totem pole. Placed at the railway station to greet train and bus traffic, the pole has stood in the national park since about 1919. But over the years cold winters and wet weather have taken their toll. Pealing paint and rotting wood are readily apparent, changing the pole from a symbol of First Nation’s heritage to a symbol of neglect.

Efforts are being made to change that. The Haida pole, about 12-metres [36-feet] high, came with the land when Parks Canada purchased the Heritage Railway Station from CN Rail in 2000. "We’re undertaking preventative conservation to make sure the structure is stable," said Rick Lair, a Winnipeg wood conservator, hired by Parks to appraise the pole. "There’s details where water is getting in and causing portions to cleave off. We want to stabilize that."

Though it is known that the pole, thought to be made of either yellow or red cedar, was apparently carved by Chief Simeon Stilta, records of how the totem was acquired from the west coast Haida have disappeared. "There’s no ownership paperwork on the pole," said Rod Wallace, cultural resource specialist for Jasper Park. "I tried through both the national and park archives, but there are no records. We’re not prepared to fight them [the Haida] over the issue of ownership." Unless some agreement can be reached, they may take it back.

"We’re trying to convince the Haida that it’s a significant cultural resource for Jasper," said Wallace. "It may mean that we take down the pole and bring in a Haida craftsman to work with us on it. "The desire of the coastal band to see their cultural heritage accounted for and respectfully displayed has led to discussions between Jasper Park Superintendent Ron Hooper and the band. The discussions are expected to continue through next winter.

* Jasper, Alberta, Canada , along with the town of Banff, is located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

June, 2003

Humvees Note the Cranberry Connector Road

TERRACE BC-Two local governments could be headed down the same road when it comes to urging the province of British Columbia to take over the Cranberry Connector. The connector is a bumpy logging road joining New Aiyansh in the Nass Valley north of Terrace with Cranberry Junction on Highway 37. It was always a dusty, twisty drive but [at least it was]passable when there was logging going on. With logging severely cut back, there is no more regular maintenance on the road, turning the route into a mass of potholes and bumps. "That road is in such horrible shape," New Hazelton mayor Peter Weeber said. "You’ve gotta be awful desperate and have a good vehicle. I recommend a Hummer." He and other northwest leaders are reluctant to send tourists along the road, which due to a number of significant totem poles and cultural sites could be part of a circle tour of totem poles in the Nass Valley, Gitanyow and Hazelton.

June 22, 2003

Hoonah Native Village Looks To Tourism

HOONAH, ALASKA--Battered by downturns in logging and fishing, the Tlingit village of Hoonah is banking on cruise ship tourism to revive the town's stagnant economy.

The local Native corporation, Huna Totem, and its business partners have successfully wooed two large industry players to the Southeast coastal village. Starting next summer, 2004, Royal Caribbean International and its sister company, Celebrity Cruises, will send vessels to Hoonah, 50 miles west of Juneau in Icy Straits. The ships will make 26 to 30 stops in Alaska's largest Tlingit village from May to September, offloading thousands of passengers and crew members at a scenic point about a mile from [the actual] town, said Michael Sheehan, a spokesman for Miami-based Royal Caribbean.

On May 11, 2004, Celebrity Cruises' Mercury will steam into Hoonah, on the north end of Chichagof Island about 40 miles southwest of Juneau. Project marketers have named the destination "Port Icy Strait."

"The Native American involvement and history in that area would clearly be of interest to our guests," Sheehan said. "If anything, it'll be the epitome of the Alaskan wilderness experience." There are presently about four traditional totem poles in the village of Hoonah, though they are apparently not on the visitor-must-see-list.

According to a McDowell Group report completed in May, when the facilities open next spring, they will generate 298 direct year-round and seasonal jobs and 89 indirect year-round and seasonal jobs, bringing in an annual payroll of $3.5 million in wages.

In 2008, when the destination is slated to reach full capacity, it will offer 603 direct jobs and 241 indirect jobs bringing in a payroll of $9.6 million.

A theater and cultural center is being built next to the [presently abandoned] Hoonah cannery by the Point Sophia Development Co. with the traditional design on the building created by David Williams and painted by Jimmy Marks and Ray Peck. As the main attraction, the Cannery will also include a working display of machinery dating to the early days of commercial fish processing in Alaska, said construction manager Jon Kveum.

June 20, 2003

Island Council Commits $12K to Portal Posts

SAN JUAN ISLANDS, WA- The Portals of Welcome Committee is $12,000 closer to its goal. Friday Harbor Town Council agreed to give that amount of lodging tax revenue towards the purchase and installation of two Coast Salish House Posts. The offer is good for two years and contingent on the rest of an estimated $50,000 in cost being raised separately. The Port of Friday Harbor is providing a waterfront location for the posts.

The project came about after Council member Marrett and a group of friends saw two 17-foot-tall posts in [famous] artist Susan Point's studio in Vancouver [BC]. The group thought the posts would look good in Friday Harbor and believed they would promote tourism. Marrett said, "Susan Point is Coast Salish. She is from the Musqueam band, which are [our] northern neighbors. The posts are carved in the Coast Salish style."

During previous discussions, questions were raised over whether the posts were representative of the local [San Juan Island] tribes or of [more] northern tribes that merely made slave raids to the San Juan Islands. Marrett said, "There is a tremendous amount of rivalry over who was [residing more or less full time] in the San Juan Islands. The Musqueam were not [residing permanently] in the San Juan Islands, which I think is good."

She said the committee has been asked why not use work from local tribes. "The answer is if you do that, you will have hard feelings from other tribes. If someone [local] gives you a gift of house posts you don’t have any say over the art work [quality]. The thing that got us excited about these posts is they are fantastic art work [in their own right] and [they] happen to be [excellent Northwest Coast] Native [style] at the same time. If you have something done as a gift it may not be a good piece of art."

According to experts, the artist's tribe is part of the larger Salish [language] grouping which encompasses local tribes. Barsh explained that [various] Coast Salish tribes have lived in the San Juans for more than 8,000 years. He said the Coast Salish art is round [in shape] while Northwest Coast art is square [-ish]. The Northwest Coast tribes were more "aristocratic," he said. "they came in here to do slave raids."

June 14, 2003

Carver Frank Fulmer Completes Journey with his Mother

JUNEAU AK- As the closing day of the cultural tour on Glacier Bay cruiseline's one-week adventure cruise drew to an end, Frank Fulmer, noted Tlingit artist, helped his frail mother descend from the ship to spend the following day at Glacier Bay Lodge. There he continued to demonstrate his paddle-carving skills to interested onlookers. Fulmer and his 78-year-old mom took the cruise to interact with passengers, including Pat Kramer, Totem Pole book author, and to dedicate a special button blanket while in Glacier Bay, the historic home of his mother's People. During the ship's crossing through Glacier Bay, at the foot of Marjorie Glacier, Frank stood next to his mother respectfully dressed in the plain button blanket robe. The active glacier seemed to respond with several dramatic ice cave-ins adding to the magic of the moment. The blanket will appear behind Fulmer's carving Eagle Dancer, scheduled to go on display in Seattle galleries and later to tour China in three or four years time along with more of Fulmers' and other Master Carvers' works.

June 15, 2003

Tulalips welcome First Salmon

TULALIP BAY, WA- More than 500 people from the Tulalip Tribes welcomed Haik Saib Yo Bouch -- "Big Chief King Salmon" in the native Lushootseed language, from Tulalip Bay Saturday in a colorful, smoky, drum-pounding ceremony..

Each year, the Tulalips celebrate the return of the first king salmon caught by giving it a ceremony that includes dividing the fish as part of a grand meal. Standing next to a circle of drummers and dancers between two fires in a longhouse filled with tribal members and guests, tribal leaders Stan Jones and Glen Gobin recounted the tradition. "The story of is that Big Chief King Salmon is a scout for the salmon people," Gobin said. "They [once]gave us life that sustained us through the winters."

"It all depends on how well Big Chief King Salmon is treated," Jones said. "When we return his remains to the salmon village out in the sea, he'll go to the [underwater] village and come to life again … and tell the other salmon how well he was treated."

"And if we do well," Gobin said, "he will send the rest of his people."

After singing a Snohomish war song and the Eagle-Owl-Kiki song, all fishers present received a blessing via a feather dipped in water. Then a young boy announced the arrival of the honored guest. Singers and drummers led a procession around the longhouse and out to the nearby beach. The crowd waited while two long ceremonial war canoes -- one from the Tulalips and one from the Suquamish Tribe -- paddled in from the center of the bay.

Big Chief [the first salmon] was with them. Jones welcomed both him and the paddling teams. The Suquamish canoe representative thanked their hosts with a solo drum song. Then two men carried the first salmon of the year back into the longhouse and onto a platform festooned with sprigs of salmonberry, cedar and ferns. After the "Happy Song", the crowd retired to the community center for a salmon-dinner.

Checking out the Big Chief during dinner, Mel Sheldon, a tribal board member, spoke. "Yesterday he [Big Salmon] was rubbing his belly in the bay," Sheldon said. One day later, tribal members were rubbing their bellies in appreciation for the salmon sacrificing its life.

June 8, 2003

Gathering Fosters Unity Among Northwest Woodcarvers

OLYMPIA, WA--Curls of yellow cedar fell to the floor as Ralph Bennett scraped at the totem pole. "I'm shaping it," Bennett explained, "It's the hardest part." He took another swipe with the block plane and stopped to suck in some air. The totem's bear and three carvers will represent body, mind and spirit. "My grandmother taught me that everything has a spirit," he said. "As artists, we get to bring that which is invisible into view."

Bennett, member of the Haida, said his totem pole will commemorate the contributions of woodcarvers. "I'm hoping some unity could come from this," he said. Bennett was among 15 featured artists at the First Gathering of Northwest Native Wood Carvers at Evergreen State College. The American Indian artists, many of whom have displays in major museums, demonstrated their tools and techniques to the public.

In addition to totem poles, artists were carving plaques, paddles and rattles and painting traditional masks using knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Some, like Squaxin Island tribe member Andrea Wilbur-Sigo, were self-taught. Using a straight knife on a spindle whorl, she is the first woman carver in her family, a family she can trace back seven generations. The woodcarvers' gathering was good for networking, she said. "It's helpful for artists to get together and share resources and techniques."

Though the carvers had to compete with the sunny weather for attention, though many visitors still dropped in. Debra Wilson of Olympia came because of her lifelong interest in American Indian art. "I think it's very beautiful, and the fact that they are preserving their culture is very important," she said.

Rep. Sandra Romeo, D-Olympia, also visited the exhibition. "I don't know enough about Northwestern Indian art, and the stuff just takes my breath away," she said. "It's beautiful.

June 8, 2003

Totem Viewing Vacation Hot Spot

OTTAWA, CANADA-The hot stop in Ottawa this summer is the stunning Canadian Museum of Civilization with its Grand Hall of 43 authentic totem poles and this year's acclaimed special exhibit, "The Mysterious Bog People," which runs through Sept. 1. Call 1-800-555-5621 or visit Museum folks say that most first-time visitors spend about three hours, but it would take three days to see the entire museum.

June 7, 2003

British Museum Holds Onto Its Haida Totem Pole

LONDON--The British Museum turns 250 today-- an 18th-century institution determined to shine a light on the 21st. One of the great achievements of the Age of Reason, the museum was founded in 1753 by a burgeoning imperial power as a place where British artifacts could sit alongside treasures and trophies from countries around the world.

The world's first national public museum was founded by an act of Parliament on June 7, 1753, with a bequest of 70,000 objects from collector Sir Hans Sloane and a mandate to admit "all studious and curious Persons." It acquired its first Egyptian mummy in 1756 and opened to the public in 1759 in a 17th-century mansion in London's Bloomsbury district. The first staff consisted of a librarian, six curators, a porter, a messenger, two watchmen and four maids.

Today the museum fills a vast Neoclassical building on the original site, has 7 million objects including a Haida totem pole, 1,000 staff, and attracts 5 million visitors a year.

May 28, 2003

Goldbelt Alaska Native Corporation Selling Cruise Business

ANCHORAGE--Goldbelt Inc., a Juneau-based Alaska Native corporation, is selling its regional cruise ship subsidiary. The corporation, which has several tourism businesses, lost $4.4 million in 2001.

Then last year, that loss ballooned to $18 million, though $14 million of that was due to the writedown of its investment in Glacier Bay Cruiseline, according to Gary Droubay, Goldbelt's president and chief executive.

An agreement to sell the regional cruise line is in the final stages, Droubay told the Alaska Journal of Commerce. "We have signed a letter of intent to sell, by all parties, very close to definitive agreement," Droubay said. He declined to name the buyer because of confidentiality agreements.

"Without the losses of the cruise line in 2003, and depending on how the tour season pans out, the corporation could see a substantial improvement," and be close to breaking even this year, said Droubay.

Although it is selling Glacier Bay Cruiseline, which operates four overnight cruise ships in Southeast Alaska, Goldbelt will retain its concession with the National Park Service to operate a lodge and day-cruise vessel in Glacier Bay, Droubay said.

Glacier Bay Cruiseline, with revenues of $1.7 million in 2001 and $7.5 million in 2002, operates overnight cruises in Southeast, taking passengers to places such as Admiralty Island and Tracy Arm. Here they can see wildlife, take excursions in kayaks or Zodiacs or see totem poles in remote Alaskan villages.

"It's an adventure-tourism product and it has had wide appeal, but our company doesn't have the financial strength to market it properly," Droubay said. The new buyer will have that capability, he said, and Goldbelt intends to partner with the company with joint sales through its other visitor-related businesses.

Meanwhile, the corporation is making progress on a major tourism development project on its lands at Hobart Bay, south of Juneau.
Goldbelt is working with international investors on providing facilities for cruise ships for a day stop at Hobart Bay, and eventually hopes to develop overnight accommodations there, Droubay said.

In addition to selling the cruise line operation, Goldbelt has restructured debt on the Mount Roberts Tramway, a popular visitor attraction in Juneau. The tram operates through the summer carrying visitors to a small visitor center for sightseeing and hikes at the 1,800-foot level of Mount Roberts.

The tram had a good year in 2001 but 2002 saw a dropoff in volumes due mainly to post-Sept. 11 effects on tourism, said Joanne Wiita, Goldbelt's marketing director.

Independent visitors were fewer and the cruise ship passengers who visited spent less money while ashore, Wiita said.

Droubay said the tram's original business plan overestimated the number of people it would attract and underestimated costs of construction.

April 17, 2003

Shotridge to Finish Carving Sun Raven Pole

SEATTLE,WA- Israel Shotridge will finish an 18-foot totem pole at the Burke Museum in front of an audience over the next three months.

Shotridge, born and raised in southeast Alaska in the Tongass National Forest, is a member of the Tlingit Bear clan. Among his commissions have been totem poles, relief panels, masks, canoes, bentwood boxes and artifact replicas. He studied at the Totem Heritage Center, in Ketchikan, Alaska, from 1975 to 1990, apprenticing under Tlingit master carver Nathan Jackson from 1982 to 1985. His apprentices carry on the tradition of learning from a master in part because Shotridge himself learned from a master. Though he has only been carving for about 20 years considerably less than many American-Indian artists the Alaska State Council on the Arts presented Shotridge with the title of Master In The Arts Of Carving And Engraving.

The carving takes place every Wednesday and Saturday in four-hour sessions beginning at noon. It s not hard for me to create while people are standing around watching, said Shotridge. Nearly every pole I 've carved has been in front of an audience.

The pole, a replication of a Tlingit Sun Raven mortuary pole, was transported from Shotridge s studio on Vashon Island and brought to the Burke yesterday afternoon. According to Shotridge, it took at least 10 men to lift the pole and place it onto two dollies in order to move it inside the museum. When the pole is completed, it will be placed permanently in a park in Ketchikan, Alaska. Shotridge started carving the pole in 1997 but has not touched it since then. While serving on the planning committee for the Burke s Out of Silence exhibit, Shotridge offered to finish the pole on site.

The pole depicts three adventures of the Sun Raven, according to Burke Museum Director George MacDonald. At the top is the Raven with his wings outstretched and a halo around his head. On his chest are three children of the sun, who the Sun Raven, according to Tlingit legend, visited during the great flood.

In the middle of the pole is the face of the Frog Woman who brought salmon to the Earth and at the bottom is a Frog guiding Raven to the underworld.

These oral legends can last in a specific tribe for over 10,000 years, said MacDonald. The idea of showing the process as an ongoing tradition is something of interest to the public.

For photos of Shotridge s earlier Raven-totem-works go to: or

For photos of the partially finished Burke Museum-totem go to:

April 15, 2003

Field Museum about to give back Haida Remains

CHICAGO - When the Field Museum of Natural History hands over the bones of 156 native Haida people to a tribe in British Columbia (Canada) in October, it will become one of only three major museums to extend the U.S. repatriation law outside the country. Like facilities across the country, the Field has returned dozens of items requested by Native American tribes in the United States.

The U.S. repatriation law requires that (if requested by the 564 federally recognized Native American tribes), museums must return four types of artifacts. These include: human remains, funeral objects, communal property or ceremonial materials. But, of major museums, only the Smithsonian and the Museum of Natural History in New York had previously turned over items to indigenous people from other countries.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act does not require that museums turn over materials to international tribes, and that's what sets apart the Field. The Haida bones being returned to Canada are mostly skulls dug up during an early 1900s expedition on the West Coast in the Queen Charlotte Islands. The Field had held onto these bones as part of an effort to understand cultures that were believed to be near extinction. The remains were never on display.

"We didn't have to return these remains, said Jonathan Haas, the museum's field archeologist. "But we're not interested in a fight over ownership. We are interested in doing the right thing in regard to human remains. The principle of returning human beings to descendants is a good principle."

"It's huge," said Karenne Wood, repatriation coordinator at the Association on American Indian Affairs in Washington. "They are going beyond what the law requires."

Tribal organizations and others are praising the Field for focusing on the spirit instead of the letter of the law.

In 2001, the museum returned a popular and treasured 26-foot totem pole to the Tlingit Native American nation. And sacred items have been returned to Native Hawaiians and communities in Alaska and New York.

"We're losing objects," acknowledged Haas. "But they are objects that didn't ever belong to the museum."

April 4, 2003

Carvings On Display

EDMONDS, WA-- A display of works by American Indian master carver Ralph Bennett is on view this month at the Frances Anderson Center, 700 Main St., Edmonds.

Bennett is a sixth-generation Haida Indian who loves sharing his culture and encourages others to learn about their own cultures. Bennett, who began carving as a young child, comes from a long line of wood carvers who designed totem poles, canoes, paddles, masks, headdresses and staffs. For nearly three decades he has been creating and sharing traditional Haida storytelling and carving.

For more on Bennett s work go to:


April 4, 2003

Lawmakers to Cut Alaska s Arts Funding

JUNEAU AK-- Some legislators are seeking to abolish the state's public art program, which has paid for projects like the Tlingit totem poles in front of the Anchorage courthouse and the collection of Eskimo art and dolls in glass cases at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

The state's 28-year-old Percent for Art Program requires one percent of the state's construction cost for buildings, plus school buildings to be set aside for buying and installing art. In rural schools, the portion is one-half percent. But the state faces tough times, and some believe the time has come for the program to go. Chugiak Republican Rep. Bill Stoltze is pushing the measure, House Bill 215, along with co-sponsors Mike Hawker of South Anchorage and Peggy Wilson of Wrangell, both Republicans.

But the art program does appear to have an important backer in Rep. Bruce Weyrauch, R-Juneau. Stoltze's bill sits in the committee Weyrauch chairs, and Weyrauch could bury it or push for a compromise. "One percent (for art) is something that adds to our makeup and composition as a society," Weyrauch said in an interview.

"To me it's soul food, it's contagious creativity," testified Anchorage artist Duke Russell. "Our city is already suffering from homogeneity ... the franchises and the superstores." It gives artists the money to showcase their work to the public.

Anchorage Democrat Ethan Berkowitz, the House minority leader and a member of the committee, said it is vital to keep the program. "It boils down to a question of who we are," he said.

The city of Anchorage also has a city program, unaffected by the state legislation program, that requires money to be set aside for art on city-funded construction.

For a photo of the Totems at the Federal Courthouse in Anchorage scroll down at:

April 2, 2003

Aboriginal artist Art Thompson dies at 54

VICTORIA, B.C. -- Canadian artist Art Thompson, acclaimed for revitalizing the arts of his Nuu-chah-nulth nation, has died after a four-month bout with cancer. He was 54.

Thompson, a member of the Ditidaht First Nation, was considered a master in the free-form style of the Nuu-chah-nulth. A noted carver and silversmith, he was an innovator in serigraphy - making a print by the silk-screen method - and brought new colors and original subject matter to the medium. He combined mediums such as wood and silver in sculptural forms of frontlets, masks and crest hats. In the 1970s, he began engraving silver and gold and was considered the foremost Nuu-chah-nulth jeweler at that time.

By the end of the decade, he was carving numerous totem poles and panels for Canada and the United States. "He was one of the most significant artists of the northwest coast," artist John Livingston told the Victoria Times Colonist. "He was a champion."

Thompson also contributed to his community as a singer, ceremonial dancer and tribal band leader.

His commissions include work for the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, and the British Columbia Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.

In 2000, he received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award.

To view samples of Thompson s works:

March 31, 2003

Totem Carvers Not Needed

BRONX ZOO, NY- Six months ago, Joseph Werner had his own special day in The Bronx. He and other Monterey County officials delivered a gift to the people of New York City. The gift, in his honor, a "healing totem pole" carved by participants in his One Voice Arts and Leadership Program, was presented during a ceremony honoring those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

The Sept. 5 presentation at the Bronx Zoo was the definite high point for Werner's arts program, intended to bring culture, work experience and paychecks to disadvantaged youths in Monterey County. For a county grand jury recently contended that the bureaucracy supporting that arts program was laden with conflicts of interest that may have kept federal job training dollars from reaching thousands of local youths. County officials took Werner's program away from him earlier this month following the damning grand jury report issued in January.

Grand jurors and other critics of Werner's program say they believe the approximately $900,000 spent last year to support the arts and leadership program could have been better spent teaching more kids skills that would help them get jobs as adults.

"There really is not a lot of demand in the job market for totem pole carvers and muralists," said one of the critics, Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero. "If I see any more of those murals I'm going to die," said Cheryl Ward-Kaiser, a member of the Workforce Investment Board, the local agency that directs federal funding to youth programs in the county.

"People see those murals and it's motherhood and apple pie," said Monterey County Probation Director Duane Tanner. "They do a great job for 30 or 40 young people. But wouldn't it be better to do a good job with 1,000 youths?"

Werner, 51, blinded 17 years ago as a result of a hit-and-run motorcycle accident, has been characteristically diplomatic about the recent turn of events in his professional life. Werner refuses to bad-mouth the grand jury and the report. His formal response, submitted two weeks ago, calmly countered many of the grand jury's findings. He says his agency tries to work with other community groups to combine resources and services. "I really don't understand where the criticism comes from," he said. "We're really proud of what we do. The arts program has become a national model that others are trying to emulate. We've never been afraid of designing projects that youth will actually be interested in participating in and that they can learn from."

Nevertheless, the proposed budget for the arts and leadership program in the coming year has been slashed from $900,000 to about $220,000.

For photos of the 2002 Healing Totem Pole ceremony and mural go to:

March 14, 2003

S'klallam Tribe Sets Sights On $4.3m Project

PORT GAMBLE, NORTH KITSAP, WASHINGTON STATE- Groundbreaking is set for April 16. A North Kitsap tribe is building a new $4.3 million including a library, elders center and educational center. While major funding for the S'Klallam Tribe House of Knowledge is provided by Department on Housing and Urban Development, plus the National Park Service, the local, Kitsap County, Kitsap Regional Library, North Kitsap School District, Town & County Markets and others are also engaged in an ongoing fund-raising drive. Many tribal employees are having contributions deducted from their paychecks for the endeavor, said Marie Hebert, tribal secretary and cultural resource director.

Giant firs now being harvested nearby will form the skeleton of the structure, with cedar siding added later said architect Ray Johnston of Johnston Architects of Seattle. "The musculature of this building is beautiful -- quite massive"

The shed-like structure will face west. Large, carved doors will open to a cavernous, 6,722-square-foot interior. Traditional powwows, storytelling, performances and ceremonies will take place against a 20-by-12-foot carved screen painted black and red. The long house will display artifacts, art and photographs in climate-controlled areas while doors in the rear open to a sunken seating area where visitors can listen and watch the sun setting over the bay. Totem poles will dot the surrounding grounds. The totems and screen were made by Tsimshian master carver David Boxley and tribal carvers Lloyd Fulton, Gene Jones Sr., Bill Jones Sr., Jake Jones, Ben Ives Sr. and Joe Ives Sr. The screen is presently on display at the Burke Museum in Seattle.


March 13, 2003

Florida Museum to Display Rarely Viewed Art

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Many selections from a little known collection of 19th and early 20th century American Indian art will be on exhibit for the public for the first time in 40 years at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Beginning March 22, "The Pearsall Collection of American Indian Art: 40th Anniversary" will honor collector Leigh Morgan Pearsall, as well as the University of Florida s acquisition of the collection in 1963. The collection consists of more than 3,000 objects, including 400 baskets, nearly 600 argillite carvings, 19 totem poles and many other important and unique objects. Over 200 of the finest examples of the collection will be displayed, including a rare Subarctic Chipewyan shoulder bag from 1820-1830, made of hide and adorned with porcupine quill designs, as well as an equally rare Chilkat robe from the Northwest Coast. The Florida Museum of Natural History is Florida s state natural history museum.

March 14, 2003

Commissioners Approve Projects

ULSTER TOWNSHIP, BRADFORD COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA -Ulster Township is set to receive $3000 for the removal of slum or blight that will help lead to the restoration of the Ulster Totem Pole--a kind of totem pole where Native Americans gathered near what is now a Steuben County village.

March 11, 2003

Large Purchase of Aboriginal Art

OTTAWA The Canada Council Art Bank, home to the largest collection of contemporary Canadian art in the world, has purchased 71 works representing art by 61 First Nations, Metis and Inuit artists. The collection is valued at $150,000. In addition to paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, weaving, appliqués and dolls. is a totem pole by Gitxsan sculptor Walter Harris, an Arts Canada winner of the 2003 Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts. The works will be unveiled to the public at an open house on March 29. The Art Bank houses some 18,000 paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures by over 2,500 artists. It has over 6,400 works rented to more than 200 government and corporate clients.

March 11, 2003

Totem Raised on Bennachie

NORTH SCOTLAND- Aberdeenshire's Bennachie hill was to host the ceremonial raising of a traditional totem pole created last year by a team of visiting Canadian craftsmen, Squamish Nation carvers from the province of British Columbia. About 60 people gathered to witness the 8ft carving being raised. The totem pole features carvings of osprey and salmon, in homage to the nearby River Don.

March 11, 2003

Totem Poles, Standing Tall

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON --Indian tribes in South Carolina and Florida produce them for tourists and collectors, but totem poles belong to the far Northwest. The rich, regional heritage of this now ubiquitous symbol of Native American culture was described by former Times colleague Ross Anderson in the March 2 "Pacific Northwest" magazine. That's a handy primer for a popular exhibit at the Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus.

The oldest of the totem poles come from three tribes in British Columbia and Alaska. Old totems had different purposes but many displayed the symbols of a family in the same way heraldic crests were used in Europe.

Totem poles also identify the status and clan of a dwelling's occupants. Others tell the blended histories of a husband and wife. Memorial poles celebrate the life of a deceased chief or relative.

By the late 19th century and into the 20th century, the carver's art was spread by traders, travelers, missionaries and government agents. Totems were an artistic marvel, and their lucrative appeal was not lost on other tribes.

As totem poles spread, their communal role diminished closest to home. Curator Robin Wright uses photographs to chronicle the decline and revival of the art form in villages over decades.

The Burke exhibit tells a story that reveals Native artistry still standing tall.

"Out of the Silence: The Enduring Power of Totem Poles" features samples from the museum's own collection, and a photographic exhibit that tracks the revival of the art form in Northwest Coast Indian culture.

March 10, 2003

Returning Totem Teddy

GREELEY, COLORADO- The University of Northern Colorado is preparing to return Totem Teddy the totem pole that inspired the UNC Bears mascot to the Tlingit tribe in Alaska. The UNC Alumni Association would like to have a member of the Tlingit tribe carve first carve a replica. Recently, they received a response from the tribe s representative, Harold Jacobs. Clan members suggested that, none of the lower story figures be copied, Jacobs wrote in his e-mail. That could mean only the bear and the top part of the pole could be copied.

March 10, 2003

Old trees to be Turned into War Memorial Totem Poles

CALGARY, ALBERTA - Plans are underway to hire professional wood carvers to turn dozens of Calgary's oldest trees into war memorial totem poles . The trees were planted 80 years ago as a legacy to Canadian soldiers who fought in the First World War. But the towering poplars that line the street of Memorial Drive are dead or dying and will be cut down next week.

Darlene Grundy, an art designer who spearheaded the campaign to memorialize the trees, said it was important for her to preserve that part of Calgary's history. "I own a graphics design company. I love the arts and I said there has to be something that should be done in order to keep the spirit of these trees," she said.

Professional wood carver Richard St. Pierre has been surveying several of the trees for the integrity of the wood and believes the project will work. "Hopefully the city will bring them down, store them and they would be put away and we would work on them," he said.

City planners, who like the proposal, are asking the public for input into the design of the carvings. The most popular suggestion is the representation of a soldier in the First World War.

February 28, 2003

Tree is Center of Silk Town Tribute

EAST ANGLIA, ENGLAND- A dead tree has been brought back to life to form a stunning totem pole tribute to a town's reputation of being the capital of the British silk weaving industry. Silk from Sudbury sells all round the world, and now the town's skyline is telling the story in the form of a tree carved to depict aspects of the craft. From the remains of a 100-year-old Monterey Cypress tree, Suffolk-born sculptor Ben Platts-Mills, of Eye, has completed a three-month project to tell the story of silk from the humble moth to finished garment. Backed by sponsorship of £7,000, the 23-ft tall work of art is set to become a tourist attraction, the tree is on council land. situated beside one of the main roads into town. As an art college work experience person a decade earlier, Miss Parker had undertaken duties at Gainsborough Silks, one of the town's three silk fabric manufacturers that employ a total of 300 people. She commented: "I wanted to feature a traditional industry that is still very much alive. The design of the tree commences from the top with a moth with its wings spread, and at the bottom there is a woman wearing a silk dress. Babergh chairman Sue Carpendale said: "I believe the sculpture will become a source of pride for local people and a must-see sight for tourists."

February 27, 2003

Participation-Totem in New Brunswick

BATHURST, N.B.--Canadians are invited to show their national pride by taking part in the creation of a nine-metre high totem pole that will travel, in three pieces, to 14 fairs and events throughout the country. Made from a 540-year-old red cedar from Masset, B.C., it will allow Canadians the chance to carve a small piece of a totem pole while watching the artist at work. They also get to bring home a memory bag.

"The more I travel the more I realize how lucky you are to be in Canada," said Daniel Richer, the official town crier for Ontario and ambassador for the Canada Pavilion, part of the Winter (Sports) Games. So I was looking for a way to promote the unity thing."

Richer, who is part Abenakis, has traveled the world as a town crier since 1981, winning competitions in the U.S., Australia, Bermuda and England. One of only three full-time town criers in North America, he has turned his love of history into a role that has seen him work in 20 different languages and introduce several world leaders. "I wanted something that would unite people& something beautiful and strong and long lasting. I thought this was the ideal way because it wasn't French and it wasn't English but it was all-Canadian. When you read a totem pole, the designer and the people who are asked to make a totem pole know the original story, but the rest of us when we see it we all find something that appeals to us.

Reg Davidson, a world-renown Haida carver from coastal B.C. was the main designer of the totem, but Mr. Richer said those who visit the Canada Pavilion are crafting it. "(Reg) came up with the different characters," said the former actor who can cry at 110 decibels. "My interpretation is that he chose a symbol that represented the people of the sky and the people of the ground and the people of the water. The Abenakis way is that everything we touch we leave part of our energy and we take part of the energy. So to me people are not only carving the totem, they are leaving part of their spirits with the totem."

Richer said he hopes that more than 200,000 people will have made their mark on the totem pole by the time it is finished in about a month. The Canada Pavilion is set up in the Bathurst Youth Center until the end of the Canada Winter Games on March 8.

February 26, 2003

Woman honored with Totem

KAKE AK- Residents recently raised a totem to show appreciation for longtime teacher, On Feb. 8, friends and family in Kake thanked 90-year-old former teacher, Mona Catherine Jackson, for her devotion to the village with the raising of a Hummingbird Raven totem pole carved in her honor."The totem pole is the best one I ever saw yet," she said. "It's beautiful. I think it's got my face on it, too." Jackson was born into a Haida family in Massett, B.C., in 1913 and moved to Hydaburg, on Prince of Wales Island, in 1923. She attended the Sheldon Jackson School in Sitka until 1935 and was a student at the Ashville Normal School for Teachers in Ashville, N.C., until 1939. Upon graduating from college, she took a job teaching school in Kake, about 90 miles south of Juneau. She taught there for 30 years, retiring in 1975.


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