It Takes an (Indian) Village: Massive Totem Poles Raised in Juneau [Video, Photo

Photo by Brian Wallace The newly-raised eagle totem pole in front of the new screen on the Gajaa Hit building in Juneau's Indian Village. In the background, the raven totem pole is maneuvered into an upright position. Photo by Brian Wallace.

It Takes an (Indian) Village: Massive Totem Poles Raised in Juneau [Video, Photos]

It had been a long time coming, and when Sealaska Heritage Institute finally raised the new totem poles at the Gajaa Hit building in the Indian Village at Juneau, Alaska, the assembled crowd of 500 knew they were witnessing a grand historical and artistic moment. The organization released the following details about the proceedings:

Two Eagle and Raven totem poles carved to honor the Tlingit Auk Kwáan clans and long term residents of Indian Village in Juneau were raised on September 29, 2014.

Apprentice Jerrod Galanin and carver Joe Young take a last look at the raven totem pole before the raising. Photo by Brian Wallace.

The Village Eagle and Raven clans along with Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and the Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority (THRHA) sponsored the event.

The totems replaced two Eagle and Raven poles at Gajaa Hit that had deteriorated to the point they posed safety issues. SHI and the Housing Authority worked closely with the Auk Kwáan and other residents of the village to identify the clan crests and oral traditions that were carved on the poles.

Raven totem pole. Photo by Brian Wallace.

The Auk Kwáan and village residents appointed village residents to serve as proxy carvers representing the Raven and Eagle clans. Carvers Joe and TJ Young made the poles with Master Carver Nathan Jackson and Ed Kuntz providing advice on the designs. The apprentices included Josh Yates, Jerrod Galanin and Tai'-Rel Osh Lang-Edenshaw. The team also made a new screen, which was installed on the building earlier.

The original 26-foot poles were carved and painted by Tommy Jimmie, Sr., Edward Kunz, Sr., Edward Kunz, Jr., and William Smith in 1977 to honor the Raven and Eagle Clans of the Auk Kwáan. The Raven pole is a copy of a totem from Wrangell carved by William Ukas in 1896. The original screen was designed by Tommy Jimmie, Sr., and painted by Ed Kunz, Sr., and Ed Kunz, Jr. The old poles and screen are being kept in storage.

Raven totem pole carried to its destination at Gajaa Hit. Photo by Brian Wallace.

This project was funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Our Town program; the Rasmuson Foundation, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and the Juneau Community Foundation. Sealaska donated the logs, and the Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority paid for the apprentices and provided construction staff and equipment for the dismounting of the old screen and poles and mounting of the new screen and poles. The project was led by SHI in partnership with the housing authority, which owns Gajaa Hit. (Photos by Brian Wallace)

Here's a time-lapse video of the installation of screen and poles, followed by more photos:

Eagle totem pole en route to Gajaa Hit raising. Photo by Brian Wallace.

Radio station KTOO estimated the crowd to be about 500 strong. Photo by Brian Wallace.

Eagle totem pole being rased at Gajaa Hit. Photo by Brian Wallace.

Carver Joe Young helps position the eagle totem pole. Photo by Brian Wallace.

Eagle totem pole, vertical. Photo by Brian Wallace.

Raven totem pole being raised at Gajaa Hit. Photo by Brian Wallace.

Raven totem pole in place. Photo by Brian Wallace.

Apprentice Josh Yates at SHI's totem pole raising at Gajaa Hit. Photo by Brian Wallace.

From left, apprentices Josh Yates, Jerrod Galanin and Tai'-Rel Osh Lang-Edenshaw with carvers Joe and TJ Young. Photo by Brian Wallace.

Carvers TJ and Joe Young. Photo by Brian Wallace.

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