Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

 
 

Foundation's totem project under way

 


Carving on two totems that will stand in front of the American Bald Eagle Foundation is under way, along with a donor wall fundraiser to help pay for them.

The totem poles will wrap around the burnt red poles that hold up the “American Bald Eagle Foundation” sign. Carver Jim Heaton, along with Kory Pettman, Mary Jane Valentine, Logan Hotch, Zane Valentine-Dur, and volunteer Jedediah Blum-Evitts, work on the poles daily under a tent near the foundation entrance. Carving began July 2.

Heaton said the foundation asked him last fall about a carving project to help draw people in. He said he hopes his work can help promote the foundation. “The poles themselves will show the relationship between the people and the animals in the valley,” he said.

To pay for the 11-foot poles, the American Bald Eagle Foundation invites people to “leave a lasting impression” to go on the foundation’s totems donor wall in the building’s lobby.

The ceramic, 6-by-6-inch tiles are $100 each, and “you can have it say anything you want,” said Cheryl McRoberts, eagle foundation director of operations. Examples include dedication or in memory of engravings. “We need to raise money for this because a totem pole is $1,500 a lineal foot. We’re looking at grants also, but in the meantime, we gotta raise some money.”

One pole will depict a salmon, frog, and raven. The other will feature a person, a killer whale, a bear, and an eagle.

Animals at the foundation also will be depicted on the carving. “Here’s Dylan, the eastern screech owl. He’s a little, tiny thing,” Heaton said, pointing to a newly carved area on the pole. “And Sarah, the great horned owl is there,” he said, pointing to another section, farther down the pole.

The sides and back of the poles will be painted in a yet-undetermined design. “We’re going to leave that up to the elders,” he said.

The totems are being carved from 550-year-old yellow cedar. Heaton will put the unfinished totems away at the end of summer and will start up again next year. The completed totem poles will be raised on July 4, 2013.