ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ketchikan, Alaska: The Greatest Place to Stand Among Totem Poles and Cedar Pole Culture

Updated on December 31, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of success in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, and aerospace education for Active USAF Civil Air Patrol.

Carved cedar pole at Saxman Native Village Park. This is a quite unusual carving.
Carved cedar pole at Saxman Native Village Park. This is a quite unusual carving. | Source

Ketchikan, Alaska Fame

  • First City founded in Alaska by European-Americans
  • The largest collection of carved red cedar poles.
  • A "Greatest Place to Stand" for photographs
  • A Top 100 Small Arts Community in America
  • A Best Place for Fishing
  • A major Alaskan economic and shipping hub
  • Largest National Forest in the USA
  • Most Bald Eagles in the world

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Downtown DistrictCreek Street Historic Boardwalk in the Downtown District, where the salmon run annually.Downtown District
Downtown District
Downtown District | Source
Source
Source
Source
Creek Street Historic Boardwalk in the Downtown District, where the salmon run annually.
Creek Street Historic Boardwalk in the Downtown District, where the salmon run annually. | Source
Downtown District
Downtown District | Source

Expansion in the Alaskan Panhandle

An earthquake shook Anchorage in the central range of the Alaskan Gulf in mid-June 2011, but Ketchikan, named after an important local creek, is on the Southeast side of the state, reaching down toward the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia.

The creek is part of the Historic Creek Street District downtown and is on a two-hour walking tour of the city. A bridge across the creek takes visitors past the dance hall and former brothels of the early Alaskan lumber and fishing settlement years and offers entertaining stories from guides.

American Portion of the Panhandle's Inside PassageThis part of the Inside Passage encompasses at least 1,000 islands.
American Portion of the Panhandle's Inside PassageThis part of the Inside Passage encompasses at least 1,000 islands. | Source

A part of the Alaskan Panhandle and the American part of the Inside Passage used by early European explorers and later shipping companies, Ketchikan is the southernmost city of sizable population in Alaska.

This city has been called the Salmon Capital of the World.

In addition to this distinction, Totem Heritage Park was chosen by readers' votes in 2009 at StoodThere.com as the a "Greatest Place to Stand in America" to take pictures, particularly selfies.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Inside Passage in British ColumbiaCruises are popular around the Alaskan Panhandle, especially for photography.
Inside Passage in British Columbia
Inside Passage in British Columbia | Source
Cruises are popular around the Alaskan Panhandle, especially for photography.
Cruises are popular around the Alaskan Panhandle, especially for photography. | Source

Indigenous Cedar Pole Cultures

Ketchikan is home to two other carved pole collections/installations, including Saxman Village and Totem Bight State Park. Carved poles can also be found in Sitka and a few other spots in this sector of Alaska, altogether being fairly close to the Queen Charlotte Islands and the rest of British Columbia in which poles carved from red cedar are prominent in history and current arts and culture.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thunderbird Dance Mask at Heritage Center.Saxman VillageSaxman VillageTotem Heritage Center
Thunderbird Dance Mask at Heritage Center.
Thunderbird Dance Mask at Heritage Center. | Source
Saxman Village
Saxman Village | Source
Saxman Village
Saxman Village | Source
Totem Heritage Center
Totem Heritage Center | Source

Yellow cedar and other woods have been carved as well, but red cedar is the traditional favorite. The Indigenous North American Peoples - First Nations and and Native Americans that have led the pole carving tradition in this area have been the Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian in America and BC, Kwakiutl in BC, and some other groups.

One of the most famous cedar pole master carvers in history, Mungo Martin, was Kwakiutl and his wife, a Tlingit -- he combined power animals, or "totems" as we call them, of both Kwakiutl and Tlingit cultures in some single poles. He also carved replicas of Haida poles in his special position with the University of Vancouver and its Department of Anthropology. Martin combined the crests or totems of four nations in a single pole for an installation in Victoria BC as well.

A carving in Ketchikan.
A carving in Ketchikan. | Source

Ranking after the largest numbers of carved poles made from before 1700 to date in the Queen Charlottes, Vancouver Island, and other portions of British Columbia; Ketchikan and the arm of land it occupies has produced the next highest numbers of carved poles in North America.

Some poles reside in Washington State and a few in Oregon. Most of the rest standing in the USA were commissioned from native and non-native carvers for art installations, campgrounds, museums, and amusement parks.

Cedar poles have been commissioned from British Columbia's Indigenous master carvers for nations as far away as the UK and other destinations. Indigenous poles of earlier histories than the Pacific Northwest, in the Old World, have been carved by Indigenous Peoples in Amur, Japan, New Zealand, Korea, Polynesia, and elsewhere.

The following photo is of an indigenous community house at Mud Bight Village and is a State- and National Historic Site

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The totem pole commissioned by the original owner at the center front, with a door opening through which to walk. Painting on the front side is similar to Haida, Haisla, and Kwakiutl.Saxman Native Village
The totem pole commissioned by the original owner at the center front, with a door opening through which to walk. Painting on the front side is similar to Haida, Haisla, and Kwakiutl.
The totem pole commissioned by the original owner at the center front, with a door opening through which to walk. Painting on the front side is similar to Haida, Haisla, and Kwakiutl. | Source
Saxman Native Village
Saxman Native Village | Source

Totem Heritage Center

Tongass Historical Museum and Ketchikan Totem Heritage Center are approximately 2,000 feet from each another east-to-west in the central part of the city. The museum is lodged within the First Cities Public Library and expects to take over the entire property for a new, large museum complex during ongoing development.

Several sources call the collection of carved poles at the Totem Heritage Center the largest worldwide in a single spot.

Some native cemeteries that include carved poles may, in fact, have a larger number than does Heritage - one perhaps in Alert Bay in the Queen Charlotte Islands, but Heritage's is very large.

Display at the Totem Heritage Center.
Display at the Totem Heritage Center. | Source

Vancouver BC also has a large installation of carved poles. Overall, those in the Alaskan collection are older, 19th century poles that were recovered from abandoned villages by the state and federal governments for preservation in the early part of the 20th century and would have decayed without such preservation.

Other poles (replicas) were carved by native peoples in the Civilian Conservation Corps under WPA programs of the Depression Era udner the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. This was a thoughtful addition to the development of American national parks that also created jobs.

A number of guided tours are available to the three carved pole collections in Ketchikan and those at the Heritage Center and Saxman Village may be combined with wildlife tours featuring local native animals and plants.

Bald Eagles are often sighted in the panhandle. Downtown Ketchikan near the library and Creek Street are both a Salmon Run and a Native Alaskan operated Eagle Center where both aerial and water wildlife thrive. The salmon run to spawn can be seen from June through September.

Cherish Your Inheritance - Celebrating forests in 2011, the International Year of the Forest.
Cherish Your Inheritance - Celebrating forests in 2011, the International Year of the Forest. | Source

Wilderness and Indigenous Sites In Cedar Pole Culture

  • Alaska's Tongass National Forest - Welcome!: Tongass covers the entire Alaskan Panhandle with the largest national forest in the United States.
  • Ketchikan Campus | University of Alaska Southeast: 2600 7th Ave, Ketchikan AK 99901. This school provides online education as well as classroom programs.
  • Ketchikan Wilderness.net - Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness: Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness and Wildlife Area includes 2,294,343 acres on the southern tip of the Alaska Panhandle.
  • Ketchikan Indian Community: Nonprofit Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center, 1158 Salmon Rd, Ketchikan AK --"Alaska has the highest population of Bald Eagles in the world!" This is Alaska's best hatchery tour, with the addition of bald eagle nests for observation. The eagles even hunt the salmon gown here and visitors can feed the fish. The buildings are made of sustainable wood and stand over Ketchikan Creek, where many salmon are visible.

A
Totem Heritage Park :
601 Deermount St, Ketchikan, AK 99901, USA

get directions

B
Tongass Historical Museum :
629 Dock St, Ketchikan, AK 99901, USA

get directions

Within the Ketchikan First Cities Public Library

C
Ketchikan Indian Community:
2960 Tongass Ave, Ketchikan, AK 99901, USA

get directions

Selfies Lead to Tourism

Tourism and Travel

Tourism is a major contributor to the local economy, especially since so many visitors travel to Alaska for photography carved cedar poles, on whale watching tours, and in on trips in the Inside Passage.

In 2013, publicity and events surrounding official openings of new indigenous museums and historic sites were akin to those when the Smithsonian Institution Museum of the American Indian opened in 2005.

I think that a festival of Pacific Northwest and Alaskan cultures is becoming more popular in this part of Alaska, as well as neighboring British Columbia, complete with master carving demonstrations and other native arts, all of which will further increase interest in the indigenous peoples of this area and their businesses.

All this will expand the usual tourist enterprises like hotels, tours, dining places, retail sales and other cultural events. Native cultures in the Pacific Northwest are receiving not only increased attention, but also increased support in their business pursuits, along with more visitors.

Another Booming Industry: Health and Medical Care

Travel Nurses and other travel-healthcare professions are needed in the City of Ketchikan and its borough or county of Ketchikan Gateway, including 15,000 residents.

Most-needed workers are licensed RNs and LPNS, Physical and Occupational Therapists, and even Physicians. The interesting thing about "traveling" is the extra perks and benefits it offers:

  • Higher Pay than average.
  • Housing Allowance/mortgage payments for up to 12 months of service in a city.
  • Travel Reimbursement to the city of work, and many more offerings.

Top Hiring Companies

  1. PeaceHealth: Hospitals and Medical Clinics
  2. Princess Cruises and Holland America Lines; Alaka Coach Tours
  3. Ketchikan Indian Community
  4. Sealaska Native Alaskan Corporation
  5. Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tours: ketchikantaxicabtours.com/
  6. American Mobile Healthcare
  7. Alaska Travel Adventures
  8. City of Ketchikan
  9. Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
  10. Safeway Supermarkets; Albertsons Grocery Stores

© 2011 Patty Inglish MS

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for a really good hub.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you, Patty, for giving me so much pleasure in reading all this. It was a feast.

    • almasi profile image

      almasi 

      8 years ago

      A very well researched and well written informative hub. Thanks.

    • visionandfocus profile image

      visionandfocus 

      8 years ago from North York, Canada

      We have a few of those totem poles in Vancouver too, I guess it's not that far away. Interesting to note the high demand for healthcare professionals, although I hadn't known about the 'travel' aspect, very interesting. Thanks for a great write-up! Voted up!

    • Sylvia's Thoughts profile image

      Sylvia Van Peebles 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      I want out of California. Maybe I should consider Alaska! Interesting and informative hub!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      8 years ago from the short journey

      What a fabulous drive along that gulf/bay area.

      Some of those jobs pay amazingly well!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)