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Totem Bight State Historical Park

Totem Bight State Historical Park is a 33-acre state park in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is located north of Ketchikan. See more

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Jan 15, 2023
We took this tour as part of a Holland American excursion. It was interesting to see all the totems and our guide did a fantastic job of explaining them. We also saw a show of the natives doing songs… Full review by 115sb
Sep 20, 2022
Emerald tour leaders were informative, helpful, charming and generous with their time. We saw bears as if on call, a waterfall and got to meet the totem pole carver at Saxman Village. 100% recommende… Full review by L5200ILrichardk
Sep 7, 2022
This state park displays 14 totem poles from the Tlingit and Haida tribes. The park is exceptionally scenic as the well maintained path meanders through the woods and opens out to the water. An exa… Full review by aw0rld2travel

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Historic Preservation
With the growth of non-Native settlements in Southeast Alaska in the early 1900's, and the decline of a barter economy, Natives moved to communities where work was available. The villages and totem poles they left behind were soon overgrown by forests and eroded by weather. In 1938 the U.S. Forest Services began a program aimed at salvaging and reconstructing these large cedar monuments. By using Civilian Conservation Corps funds to hire skilled carvers from among the older Natives, two things took place: young artisans learned the art of carving totem poles, and totems which had been left to rot in the woods were either repaired or duplicated. Alaskan architect Linn Forrest supervised construction of the model Native village for this site, then called Mud Bight. The fragments of old poles were laid beside freshly cut cedar logs, and every attempt was made to copy them traditionally. Tools for carving were hand-made, modeled on the older tools used before coming of Europeans. Samples of Native paints were created from natural substances such as clam shells, lichen, graphite, copper pebbles, and salmon eggs; natural colors were then duplicated with modern paints. By the time World War II slowed down the CCC project, the community house and 15 poles were in place. The name of the site was then changed to Totem Bight. At statehood, in 1959, title to the land passed from the federal government to the State of Alaska, and the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. At that time it came under the management of the State's Department of Natural Resources for continuing historic preservation treatment by the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.
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