New Eagle and Raven totem poles to rise this month

T.J. Young
carving tools
Gajaa Hit-Willoughby face

Haida carver T.J. Young carves fine details into an Eagle totem pole in progress. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

A variety of tools lay on work table at the totem pole carving site. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

The Raven and Eagle totem poles and screen outside the Gajaa Hit building in the Indian Village area were made in 1977. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/ KTOO)

Haida carving brothers Joe and T.J. Young are back in Juneau to finish a pair of Eagle and Raven totem poles.

About this time last year, the Hydaburg men and their apprentices were using axes and chainsaws to shape the red cedar logs. Friday, they were working with small hand tools.

“As you work your way, as you start roughing it out, you’ll start getting — the tools’ll get smaller and smaller and smaller,” says T.J. Young. “And you’ll do a lot more sharpening throughout the process.”

Sealaska Heritage Institute commissioned the new poles to replace the deteriorating, 36-year-old ones in front of the Gajaa Hít building off Willoughby Avenue.

Young says they’re working 12-hour days, but are on schedule. The new totem poles are supposed to be raised at the end of the month.

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