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David Boxley Totem Pole at the National Museum of the American Indian

David Boxley, a Tsimshian carver from Alaska, created a totem pole for the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Boxley, who grew up in Metlakatla, and his son finished the work in the museum's Potomac atrium, where the Tsimshian dance group Git--Hoan (People of the Salmon) celebrated the unveiling. "There's few of us," Boxley told the Washington Post. "But we're alive and well. We wanted to let people know we're alive and well." The totem features a chief holding salmon, a group of villagers, and an eagle—the symbol of Boxleys' clan.

The Tsimshians lived for centuries in the Canadian province of British Columbia. In the 1880s, several hundred families were led by a missionary to the Alaskan town of Metlakatla, where Boxley was born.

For many years he worked as a school teacher before realising his culture was disappearing and he needed to help it survive.


Totem pole carving was once a thriving tradition passed on through the generations, but when Boxley tried to learn the craft, nobody was alive to teach him.

He began researching the lost art, visiting museums that held examples of North-west Pacific carvings and studying the ancient designs.

"My mother's generation was punished for speaking their own language, sent off to boarding schools and made to feel ashamed of who they were," he says.

VIDEO

Responses to "Tsimshian carver from Alaska revives extinct totem art (VIDEO)"

  1. Priceless heritage!

  2. Martha says:

    Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful In all ways. Done for all the right reasons. A gift to all humanity. Thanks given to the maker Tsimshian and his son as well. Thank you.

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