Picture of the Day: Ketchikan Alaska, the land of the Totem Pole

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tplTotem Poles can be found throughout the Northwestern area of North America. Seattle and Vancouver both have some very nice examples but if you really want to see them in all their glory, you need to come to Ketchikan, Alaska. The city has the largest collection in the world, and the craft of pole making is still being practiced today.

tpl1I was surprised to learn the figures aren’t idols but more like newspapers, as they do convey stories. Most often they are stories about the past or lessons about life. There’s one totem that warns children not to go to close to the beach without an adult, by telling the story of a boy who didn’t obey and as eaten by a killer whale.

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The poles are made from Cedar which is rot resistant. This is especially important since most areas in the Alaska panhandle don’t get a whole lot of snow in the winter, but summers are often very wet. 
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While many of the poles are 10 to 20 feet average. Some are over 100 feet tall. 
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Bald eagles are everywhere. The poles also include salmon, bears, whales, and sometimes supernatural creatures 
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There are several parks dedicated to totem poles, this is Totem Bight State Park. There is also the Saxman Village where on most days you can watch craftsmen building new poles. 

Ketchikan is a hard [lace to get to, but it is almost always a stop on most Alaskan cruises. (That’s how I got there) So if you are cruising to Alaska and this is one of your stops, definitely get off the ship!

9 Replies to “Picture of the Day: Ketchikan Alaska, the land of the Totem Pole”

  1. We have some nice totems here in Vancouver but wow would I like to see them in Ketchikan. If you visit Vancouver, you should stop in at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC—a marvellous display of Northwest First Nations art.

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