Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kasaan Village Totems

A previous trip to Kasaan Inlet in 2002 was memorable for our first view of the longhouse, with its 3 impressive interior totems, and a half dozen old poles collected from the neighboring villages and islands which are displayed along a wooded, winding path. How startling to see the weathering effect of six years on both the structure and the exterior poles.  Several totems are split or missing pieces, and only traces of paint remain on many exterior poles. The water side/weather side of the longhouse is rotting away with one corner fallen in. The interior house posts are in much better condition, due to their sheltered location. Nothing remains of the old sawmill or cannery, or perhaps the ruins have been covered by the aggressive growth of brush.

What a contrast to the new library, open only 2 months, where everything is still shiny and new and the adjacent school with it's new totem. Librarian Bonnie and Julie C, a village elder, chatted with us about life in Kasaan now and in the past. 

Later Eric, a 17-year old local artist, came aboard to discuss art, technology and marketing. Wave action at the dock kept us rolling all night, so we moved on the next morning, though it was tempting to linger and do more photography.

Later in the summer we found several Alaskans with links to Kasaan - a Meyers Chuck couple met there as teens when their parents were employed at the mill or cannery, a Ketchikan harbor worker reminisced about playing high school basketball against a tough Kasaan team... Alaska is a large state with surprisingly close networks.

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