Memorial Totem Pole

memorial pole 2Totem poles were not designed to last forever, and until the 1930s little was done to preserve them in Alaska. In 1937 the U.S. Forest Service began to collect information on the location and condition of existing poles. The following year, the restoration of Alaska’s totems became a Civilian Conservation Corps project.

This totem pole is on display at the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka. The extensive area of deterioration in the eagle’s head is an indication of age and weathering. Traditionally, once erected and an associated potlatch is given, totem poles usually did not receive maintenance such as repairs or repainting. Memorial poles, unlike mortuary poles, do not hold cremated remains, but serve as monuments to an individual, either living or pole  1

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