Sunday, July 31, 2011

Alaska Extra - Totem Poles

I love Totem Poles. Hope you enjoy these pictures. Totem poles are carved to honor deceased ancestors, record history, social events, and oral tradition. Symbols of a family's clan usually appeared on them (top). Read from the top down. They were never worshipped as religious objects.

Animals are used to represent certain characteristics. Common animals uses: Raven, Eagle, Wolf, Bear, Frog, Thunderbird, Otter, Beaver, Owl, Salmon, Sea Turtle, Killer Whale... See if you can identify any of these characters in the poles. People also appear - for specific reasons (i.e. someone upside down usually owes a debt).

This painting on the side of a building is cool because the animals depicted show their heads as they might be represented on a totem pole.

Chief Joseph or Kayuk Totem Pole...

Raven Stealing the Sun Totem Pole...

Tells of Raven who desired the sun, moon & stars owned by a powerful chief. Raven changed form appearing as chief's grandson & cried until given the boxes each containing 1 of the heavenly bodies. Then Raven with his trickery, opened the boxes releasing the contents to the earth.

Killer Whale: strong & brave fish; will bring food and assistance to important people lying helpless/wounded. Owl: very respected; thought to symbolize souls of the departed...Wolf: very powerful; can help people that are sick or in need...

Eagle: intelligent & resourceful; rules the sky and is able to transform himself into a human

Lincoln Pole: It is said that several government officials, while touring the Alaskan Wilderness, commissioned this totem pole in honor of the then current President of the U.S. Leaving a picture of Mr. Lincoln, the officials went on their way and returned months later to view the masterpiece. Imagine their horror when they saw how short Mr. Lincoln looked. The Indians apparently did not unfold the picture they were given which would have revealed the complete picture of Abe.

Bear: teacher

Seward Shame Pole (seen in background above): After U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward oversaw the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867, the Tlingit tribe held a potlatch in his honor, and Seward was showered with a wealth of gifts. The recipient of potlatch gifts is supposed to reciprocate. Apparently unaware of this, Seward never again visited the tribe, which waited patiently for the grand party they expected. After several years of
waiting they gave up, and the chief commissioned a “shame pole” with a tiny figure of Seward at the top, his mouth/ears painted red for shame. His descendants came a few years ago to try to repay the debt and have the pole removed. Only the original people involved may do so and their offer was declined so the pole remains.

Beaver: Reminds us to act on our dreams; example of teamwork

Rock Oyster Man Pole: Memorializes a young man who lost his life fishing for octopus. The eagle and beaver figures represent the clans the young man belonged to. The bottom figure is the rock oyster. The man drowned when the shell of a giant oyster closed upon his arm and he could not get away from the incoming tide. His face is 2-toned to represent his violent death. Some use it as a warning to be careful where you put your hands.

Frog: brings wealth

Raven: trickster: curious & mischievous, often misbehaving but never boring

This is typical of a totem used for a doorway into a house.

Chief Kayan Totem Pole (crane, thunderbird, brown bear)- supposedly you rub the tummy and you'll find money!

These were in Icy Strait Point where you could sit by a constantly burning fire.

This is the one on our ship. It was carved by a local carver.

Thunderbird: mythological bird known to manifest the rolling of thunder while beating its wings & creating lightening when blinking it eyes; known to kill whales.

I know you can't see the detail as well but I hope you enjoyed viewing them and maybe trying to figure out a story or two.

Alaska Extra - Artwork & Moose of Talkeetna

There are a great many artisans in this state. I guess those long winters are good for something. This is a sawblade I saw on the wall of a place we had lunch. It is an intricate winter scene.Detail I love artwork on the walls of buildings. You see a lot of Alaskan culture in these paintings.

These are whales...

This is a sledding scene...

Talkneetna is known for being the town "Northern Exposure" was based on. There is a local moose that wanders through town from time to time. We didn't see the real deal here but a lot of local business had a wooden one out front. It was "Moose On Parade" apparently.

Mexicana Carnival...

Patriotic Spruce Moose...

Celebration of The Sourdough Expedition (miners who were the first to scale Mt. McKinley)...

Marty the Moosical Moose (local musicians represented)...

This guy was in our hotel...