Sustaining Community
Members of the Tongass Tribe Gather for a Rededication of the Chief Kyan Totem Pole, 2019
Hall Anderson

The original Chief Kyan totem pole stood on Barney Way, near the present site of the Tongass Historical Museum. The figures on the totem pole represent the Crane, Thunderbird, and Brown Bear. The original totem pole was commissioned by Tongass Tlingit Chief Yaansein, also known as George Kyan, whose Brown Bear crest can be seen on the totem pole.

Moved to the Pioneer Hall in the 1920s, the totem pole showed signs of significant decay. Using photographs of the original, Tsimshian carver Stan Marsden carved a replica in 1966 for the Alaska Purchase Centennial held in 1967. When completed, the totem pole was raised at the top of Main Street. A third version, commissioned by the City of Ketchikan, was carved in 1992 by Tlingit master carver Israel Shotridge, with the assistance of apprentice Edwin DeWitt. That rededication and totem pole raising took place in Whale Park on July 3, 1993.

To honor the continuing tradition of this totem pole, the Tongass Tribe hosted another rededication on July 3, 2019. Israel and Sue Shotridge restored the totem pole, ensuring that the community and our visitors will continue to appreciate the Chief Kyan totem pole for years to come. The Chief Kyan totem pole can also be found in the pages of the U.S. Passport.

Loan to Ketchikan Museums, L2022.4.11.3
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