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Wooshkeetaan Kootéeyaa (Totem Pole) moved to State Office Building atrium

October 21, 2021 – News

The Juneau-Douglas City Museum (JDCM), in partnership with the Áak’w Ḵwáan Wooshkeetaan and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF), will be installing the Wooshkeetaan Kootéeyaa (Totem Pole) inside Juneau’s State Office Building atrium in November.

The Wooshkeetaan Kootéeyaa, carved by Master Carver Yéil Yádi Nathan Jackson with assistance from artists Steve Brown and Dorica Jackson, was commissioned in 1980 by the City and Borough of Juneau Centennial Art Committee as part of the Centennial celebration. Both the Wooshkeetaan Kootéeyaa honoring Tléix’ Shangukeidí (Eagle/Wolf) and the Áak’w Kootéeyaa, also carved by Jackson honoring Tléix’ Laayaneidí (Raven/Crow), are part of the permanent collection of the JDCM and were raised in front of Centennial Hall in 1983. The Áak’w Kootéeyaa was taken down and re-installed inside the Juneau-Douglas High School in 2003 and the Wooshkeetaan Kootéeyaa was taken down and placed in storage in 2016.

In preparation for the installation, the Wooshkeetaan Kootéeyaa was moved from storage to the State Office Building Atrium on Friday, October 15, where the kootéeyaa will lay flat and adjust to the new climate until it is installed. The installation is financially supported by The Rotary Club of Juneau, the Friends of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, and a grant from Museums Alaska’s Collections Management Fund, which is supported by the Rasmuson Foundation. A rededication celebration will be held after installation.

“We are so pleased to return the Wooshkeetaan Kootéeyaa to a public space and to our community. Gunalchéesh to the Áak’w Ḵwáan Wooshkeetaan for their guidance and thank you to DOT&PF Commissioner Ryan Anderson, the Juneau Delegation, and the team at the SOB for their assistance in making this happen. I hope everyone takes the opportunity to visit the kootéeyaa and learn more about the Wooshkeetaan,” said Museum Director Beth Weigel.

Before carving began, George Jim, Sr., a Wooshkeetaan elder, was consulted and determined which figures would be included on the Wooshkeetaan Kootéeyaa and provided the following interpretation:

The Wooshkeetaan Kootéeyaa carries the figures and crests for the Eagle moiety and include from the top: Uncle Sam representing the white man and his culture presented to the Native people resulting in citizenship, the Shark Crest, the Murrelet Crest, the Thunderbird Crest, the Bear Crest, the Wolf figure as a reminder of a legend about a wolf claiming the Wooshkeetaan people as part of his family, the G̱unakadeit or Sea Bear Crest, the Good Luck Woman honoring the Raven moiety as the opposite clan they marry into, the Spirit Man representing the five powerful Spirit Men who belonged to the village at Dax̱anáak (Berner’s Bay), and the Dax̱anáak Mountain symbol representing the ancestral home of the Wooshkeetaan people.

To make a donation in support of the installation, visit the Friends of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum website. For more information, contact the City Museum at 907-586-3572 or [email protected].

(Photo by Michael Penn)