Thursday, June 19, 2014

Step Into the Past in Ketchikan

Free-Standing Giants

During an Alaska Inside Passage cruise, you will most likely have a stop in Ketchikan.  If you are wondering what you might do there, then continue reading.

Ketchikan has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles, found throughout the city and at four major locations: Saxman Totem Park, Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park, and the Totem Heritage Center. Most of the totems at the two parks are replicas of older poles.

Since totem poles were typically carved from red cedar tree trunks, which are subject to decay over the years, there are few examples of pre-1900 in existence today. 

Totem Bight 
State Historical Park

During the Roosevelt era, through the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and skilled native carvers, several totem poles were repaired or duplicated at a sight which is known today as Totem Bight State Historical Park. Here you can see 14 totem poles and a Clan House.

A visit to Totem Bight is very educational since there are signs posted which explain the art, the culture, and history of native tribes who would have carved these tall poles. You can learn even more by clicking on the links above.

Clan House

 A clan house, or community house, could house 30-50 people inside this one-room dwelling.  The clan house at Totem Bight is representative of the type in many Indian villages built in the early 19th century.

Several families would have lived inside this house, with each having their own space, while sharing a common fireplace.

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