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forestry sciences laboratory

Tlingit Master Carver Restores a 74-year-old Totem in Alaska

In a small U.S. Forest Service workshop in Juneau, Alaska, a skilled Alaska Native artist is meticulously bringing a traditional artifact back to life. Tlingit Master Carver Wayne Price of Haines has begun the process of restoring the totem, which has overlooked the Auke Recreation Area near Juneau for more than 70 years.

In 1941, Frank St. Clair, a Tlingit from Hoonah, and two members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, originally carved the Yax té or Big Dipper totem, which symbolizes a “place where a strong tribe flourished.” The Aak’w Kwáan, according to historical documents, were Tlingit people and among the first to settle in the Juneau area.