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Tribal House

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1990. 2 miles southeast of Ketchikan
  • Tribal House (Jet Lowe)
  • Tribal House (Alison K. Hoagland)

This traditional plank house, measuring 47 feet by 76 feet, was completed in 1990. Built by Saxman residents, the house is far larger than other reconstructions. Planks on the front and rear are vertical, while on the sides the planks are vertical on the lower 3 feet of the walls and horizontal above. The planks are pegged and have been given an adze finish. The carving on the front of the building and the house posts and screen inside were crafted by local carvers.

The collection of twenty-four totem poles was assembled in the 1930s from neighboring Tlingit villages of Old Tongass, Cat Island, Village Island, Pennock Island, and Cape Fox. Many inhabitants of these deserted villages moved to Saxman. The U.S. Forest Service employed Civilian Conservation Corps workers—Native carvers—to restore or duplicate old poles.

Linn A. Forrest, Forest Service architect, located the totem poles in a formal setting. A roadway lined with poles leads up from the water, then divides into two stairways, one framed by Raven totems, the other with Bear. The other totem poles are arranged in a circle, at the top of which is the new tribal house. The legends of the poles and their origins are known and are recounted in Viola Garfield and Linn A. Forrest, The Wolf and the Raven (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1961).

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Tribal House", [Ketchikan, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 206-206.

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