The web venture marks the first time the institute has broadcast a Native art project live on the Internet, said Dr. Rosita Worl, president of the institute.
"Most often people see a finished totem pole but they have no idea of the work that goes into carving a totem pole. This will be the first time viewers will be able to go to the Internet and watch the carving of a totem pole right from the beginning to the end," said Worl, noting the public also is invited to stop by Sealaska Plaza and watch the artists carve.
The artists will carve a seven-foot totem for Nypro, a plastics company and business partner of Sealaska Corporation. The totem was commissioned by Nypro through SHI's Native art website, www.alaskanativeartists.com. The company requested a "unity" pole that would reflect the working relationship between Nypro and Sealaska. Nypro plans to raise the pole at its Clinton, Massachusetts, headquarters in December to commemorate its 50th anniversary.
The design conceived by Peck and Marks recalls the story of K?naak, a traditional legend about a clan leader who was entering a bay and saw hundreds of salmon dancing on their fins, appearing as if they were standing together. The legend has been used to represent people standing together.
The pole will feature a Raven with its wings spread on top, the five salmon species native to Alaska in the middle and a face on the bottom. The face represents the bay of the salmon or the land of the Tlingit. The project is open to the public and the institute is encouraging people to stop by.
The carvers are set up outside the Sealaska building on the Seward Street side of the plaza. The pole is expected to be finished by November 1, 2005. The webcam may be viewed through www.sealaskaheritage.org or by typing 188.8.131.52 in the address line of a web browser. Click "login" to activate the camera. Java software is required and may be downloaded for free at www.java.com/en/download/index.jsp.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private, nonprofit founded in 1981 to administer cultural and educational programs for Sealaska Corp. The institute is governed by an all-Native board of trustees. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. All proceeds from the totem pole sale will support SHI's programs.