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Master Carver David Boxley Begins KIC Totem
at Ketchikan's Southeast Alaska Discovery Center


July 10, 2003
Thursday - 12:30 am

Ketchikan, Alaska - Carving of the first of three new totem poles slated for installation at the Ketchikan Indian Community offices located at 2960 Tongass Avenue began this week as Tsimshian Master Carver David Boxley arrived in Ketchikan on Sunday, July 6. Working cooperatively with the Ketchikan Forest Service, KIC will have this first pole carved on the first floor of the USDA Forest Service Southeast Alaska Discovery Center Building at 50 Main Street in Ketchikan, in the "Trip Planning Room" where people can watch the pole's creation by this award-winning master carver.

 Willard Jackson and Sam Bergeron size things up as they prepare to hoist the pole for carrying into the carving center of the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center in Ketchikan...
Photo courtesy KIC - Christine Collison photographer

The project to carve and raise these monuments in cedar is part of a several-year planning and fundraising effort by KIC, which represents over 4,800 Tribal members. The Rasmuson Foundation's "top-off" grant of $100,000 for carving fees heads the list of prominent contributors towards this culturally important project. KIC has also contributed both cash and in-kind services for the project. Fundraising to complete the other two poles is ongoing.

The KIC Tribe commissioned Boxley to carve the 25-foot pole out of a Western Red Cedar log donated by the USDA Forest Service that was recently felled from the Tongass National Forest on Betton Island near Ketchikan. KIC, working with local carvers and Forest Service Personnel, chose the tree, cut it down, and transported it to the Saxman Seaport. The log, which is estimated to have been 500 years old and weighed 5,000 pounds, was then "squared up" by Dale Bakella Construction and hollowed out in the back by Tsimshian Carver Wayne Hewson. The log was then transported to the Discovery Center with services donated by Southeast Stevedoring and brought into the building accompanied by singing, drumming, and a traditional blessing. Boxley arrived at the site on Monday, July 7th to begin carving the pole's detail features.

 With the assistance of Sam Bergergon Construction and manual labor, the pole is moved inside the
Southeast Alaska Discovery Center through a window...
Photo courtesy KIC - Christine Collison photographer

The pole's design was commissioned by KIC with the help and approval of a committee of tribal elders and cultural authorities. The pole is in harmony with an overall plan to have the three totems carved by representatives of each of the area's indigenous traditional tribes: the Tlingit, the Haida, and the Tsimshian. The current totem to be carved by Boxley will feature his interpretation of three legends: the Eagle and the Young Chief, Killer Whale's Battle With the Octopus, and The Shaman Who Defeated the Ghost Chief.

The carving plan will have Boxley and an apprentice demonstrate their skills as they work on the full-scale totem pole within the Ketchikan Forest service facility, which has been temporarily turned into a "carving shed" along with the other functions of the building. During the carving period, which is estimated to continue through mid-September, there will be no interruption in the services that are normally provided in the Discovery Center's Trip Planning Room or other areas of the building.

The final journey for the completed pole, which has not been named, will be to the southeast end of the KIC Tribal Health Clinic and Administration Building at 2960 Tongass Avenue. There are foundations prepared for three poles in a row at the KIC facility, and current plans call for all three totems to be raised during a grand "potlatch" celebration next year.

 With the assistance of KIC Employees and Members, the first Totem pole gets carried inside of the Discovery Center...
Photo courtesy KIC - Christine Collison photographer

Appreciation was extended to those who donated their valuable time and resources to the project:

  • The Rasmuson Foundation: Top-off grant
  • USDA Forest Service: Red Cedar tree, carving space, transportation
  • Kip Thomas: Tree falling and limbing
  • C&O Marine: Transportation of tree to Saxman
  • Southeast Stevedoring: Loading and transportation to Discovery Center
  • Bergeron Contruction: Forklift and personnel handling log
  • Val Strassel: Log handling and blocking
  • KIC Employees: Log handling labor
  • KIC Inter-Tribal Dancers: Songs and drumming

And appreciation was extended to those who were ably hired:

  • Wayne Hewson: Log preparation
  • Dale Bakella: Bandsaw work on log

Related KIC Photo Gallery:

Photographs of the pole-carving progress


Source of News Release & Photographs:

Ketchikan Indian Community
Web Site

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