Eagle Totem Pole
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Honoring our Cultural History
The UAS Auke Lake Campus is located on lands originally inhabited by the Tlingit Indians. Tlingit, meaning "The People," are divided into Moieties, which means "each of two parts." There is the Eagle moiety and the Raven moiety.
In March 1993, the UAS Auke Lake Campus was given a Raven totem pole. The pole was carved by four Tlingit carvers from Haines during an exhibition at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, after which it was dedicated and displayed at the Nikiski Standard Oil (later Chevron) refinery on the Kenai Peninsula. When the facility was sold, Chevron wanted the pole returned to Southeast, home of the Raven people, and generously donated the pole to UAS.
After accepting the gift of the Raven pole, UAS became aware that, without an Eagle pole to complement it, the Tlingit sense of balance between the moieties would be missing. The Eagle pole was raised April 24, 2010.
Wooch.Een is honored to have worked with the Aak'w Kwaan on the location of the pole placement, and what figures the totem would hold. Gunalcheesh, Haw'aa, T'oyaxsut 'nuusm, thank you all who supported and continue to support the lifting of the first people of this territory.
Brothers Joe and T.J. Young were hired in 2009 to carve an Eagle totem for the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS). The pole will balance the Raven totem already on campus. In Southeast Native society, people are either of the Raven or Eagle moiety and both sides need to be represented for social and spiritual balance. The project is sponsored by Sealaska Heritage Institute and Sealaska Corporation, which donated the 15-ton, 45-foot, red-cedar log. The artists are Sealaska shareholders who live in Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island. They have carved other totems, including a 40-foot pole for the Sitka National Historical Park and a 32-foot crest pole for the Hydaburg Totem Park.
Totem poles are designed to reflect history of place and people. The practice of showcasing stories through carved monuments has been around since time immemorial for most of the Pacific Northwest Coast Tribes. Historically, a totem was raised for several reasons: in honor of a deceased elder; to show the number of names and rights a person had acquired over their lifetime; to record an encounter with a supernatural being; or to symbolize the generosity of a person who sponsored a healing ceremony (there are many other reasons not listed here). Today, totem poles are carved for both Natives and non-Natives. The poles have come to represent Northwest Pacific Coast Native tradition and pride and are considered works of art.