Story last updated at 5/13/2009 - 11:29 am
Artists Joe and TJ Young have won a contract to carve a totem pole for Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) on behalf of the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS).
A selection committee comprised of SHI and UAS representatives chose the brothers from pool of applicants last week.
The artists are Sealaska shareholders who live in Hydaburg. They have carved other totems, including a 40-foot pole for the Sitka National Historical Park and a 32-foot crest pole for the Hydaburg Totem Park.
The goal of the project is to balance the Raven pole that was donated to UAS and erected in 1993. Native people belong to either the Eagle or Raven moiety, and in ceremonies and at secular events both moieties are represented for balance.
"I really want to acknowledge the sensitivity of the university in trying to respond to our cultural protocols that require the presence of an Eagle pole," said SHI President Rosita Worl. "We have to have both an Eagle and Raven pole to have social and spiritual balance."
Said Aak'w Kwáan Elder Marie Olson: "It's really nice to get an all-Eagle totem pole to complement the existing all-Raven totem pole. The Raven is going to be happy,"
Elders of the Aak'w Kwáan met with Wooch.éen, a Native student club on campus, to identify the Eagle clan crests to be featured on the totem. They wanted to give special recognition to the Wooshkeetaan, an Eagle clan from the Juneau area. The pole will feature Eagle to represent all Eagle clans plus Shark, Wolf and Thunderbird, with Shark representing the Wooshkeetaan.
"But it's more than just a Shark, it's an anthropomorphic figure signifying the students who are attending the university," Worl said.
Sealaska Corporation donated a 45-foot, red cedar log for the project, which will be managed by Sealaska Heritage Institute. The log was delivered to the university May 7 and given a traditional welcoming ceremony
The artists will carve the pole under the canopy of the Egan Classroom wing and complete it by September. The university will launch a fund-raising effort to purchase the pole from Sealaska Heritage Institute and raise it on campus in 2010. The finished pole will be painted and measure 36 feet.