Saxman Native Village is known for their collection of Native American Totem Poles, the largest collection of standing Totem Poles in fact, but that’s hardly the end of it! There is a gorgeous Clan House, Native Carving Shed, Gift Shop, a short walk through the rainforest, and active eagles next just across the street. Saxman is one of the top Ketchikan Totem Pole Parks and is a must-see during your visit!
The visually stunning totem poles leave a lasting impression as you walk through the village and see the incredible size and detail in each piece. Fascinating works of art used to relay stories and honor important people in the community these totems are nothing short of amazing. Abraham Lincoln? There is a story here…
The Tlingits belong to either of two lineage clans: the Raven or Eagle phratries. In 1868, the Raven and Eagle phratries were at war with each other. The Ravens were entrenched on an island without food or freshwater. Word arrived of the nearby presence of the cutterLincoln, and the Raven people escaped to the beach under the shelter of the guns of the Lincoln. With the Ravens under the protection of the Lincoln, the two groups made peace and never fought again.
The Lincoln totem pole was created in the 1870s by the Ravens to commemorate the protection they received. The pole carver was a Tsimshian artist from British Columbia who carved the image from a photograph he was given of Abraham Lincoln. Because he is wearing a stovepipe hat, I believe this was likely one of the Antietam photographs of Lincoln. At the bottom of the pole is the Raven figure, and the pole is referred to as the Proud Raven Pole. The pole was moved to Saxman Park in 1938. Due to weather-related deterioration, the pole was reproduced, and the original was sent to the Territorial Museum in Juneau.
And why President Lincoln and not the boat named after him? Only living creatures are allowed to be carved on a totem pole.