totembightjpgTotem Bight State Historical Park

The only state park dedicated solely to Alaska’s Native heritage, this historical site showcases 14 carved totem poles and a clan house, each telling a story or commemorating an important event in the Native Tlingit or Haida culture.


Tips for Visitors

  • Stop by the bookstore for a guidebook or to talk with a ranger at the site.
  • Follow the interpretive trail under a rainforest canopy of giant hemlock and cedar trees.
  • Take a walk through history and admire the intricate artwork of 14 totem poles.
  • Enter the clan house and imagine what it was like to live here with 50 of your closest relatives.
  • Have a picnic or enjoy the beach at low tide.

Natural Highlights

  • Art and nature come together here as totemic art mirrors the natural bounty all around: Eagles and ravens soar above; whales and otters inhabit the bays and inlets; bears and wolves live in the forest beyond. And all are symbolically represented in the poles themselves, each one with its own story.
  • Set in a tranquil rainforest setting, the site offers visitors a chance to walk through a northern temperate rainforest leading to breathtaking views of the ocean beyond.

Historical HighlightTotem Bight
Today’s park is the result of a project envisioned by Forest Service engineer C. R. Snow and architect Linn Forrest, working with lead carver, Tlingit Charles Brown. Launched in 1938, the “Mud Bight Village” project sought to simultaneously inform visitors about the region’s first people and support the carving tradition as elders taught and supervised a team of carvers working to create a model village.

Cultural Highlight
Although no totems from pre-1800 have survived, the 14 poles that stand in the park today are copies of originals carved long ago by skilled Tlingit and Haida craftsmen. In most creative forms, a copy might be viewed as an object of lesser value than the original. In totem carving, however, the copy may be even more meaningful, as contemporary carvers echo the work of their ancestors.

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