Seattle Totem Pole, 1940

Seattle Totem Pole, 1940

Charles Brown's fifty-foot cedar totem pole represents Tinglit legends.

Location

Pioneer Place Park
1st Avenue & Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98104, USA

About the Artwork

Seattle Totem Pole was created in Alaska in 1940 by native carvers of the Kyan and Kinninook Indian families. The pole was part of a Civilian Conservation Corps project to replace one that had been originally in place there since 1899.

Charles Brown directed the work, with William H. Brown, James Starrish, Robert Harris, William Andrews, and James Andrews on the carving crew. The replica pole left Alaska on a ship headed to Seattle in April 1940 and was dedicated on July 25 with great celebration.

The original totem pole was acquired from Tongass Island, Alaska by an expedition committee chosen by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It was erected where the current one stands now but was irreparably damaged by an arsonist in 1938. The pole symbolizes three Tlingit Indian legends with figures representative of the Raven Clan. The hero of the legends is located at the top of the totem, while Grandfather Raven, a mythological being known as both a creator and a trickster, forms the pole’s base.

Funding

A gift from the United States Forest Service.

Photo Credits

Photos by Spike Mafford Photography