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Totem Bight State Historical Park  

Totem Bight State Historical Park

Ten miles north of Ketchikan is Totem Bight State Historical Park, an 11-acre park that is packed with restored and re-carved totems as well as a colorful community house. Just as impressive as the totems are the park's lush rainforest setting and the rocky coastline along Tongass Narrows.

When Alaska's indigenous people migrated to non-Native communities to seek work in the early 1900s the villages and totem poles they left behind were soon overgrown by forests and eroded by weather. In 1938, the U.S. Forest Service began a program designed to salvage and restore these large cedar monuments by hiring skilled carvers from among elder Tlingit and Haida Indians who in turn passed on the art of carving totems to younger artisans.

The project grew into the construction of a model Native village and by World War II the community house was complete and 15 poles were erected. The name of the site was then changed to Totem Bight and when Alaska received statehood in 1959 the title to the land passed from the federal government to the State of Alaska. In 1970 the state park was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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