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Old Kasaan, on Prince of Wales Island, was inhabited by the Kaigani Haida. In 1902–1904 the villagers moved to a new site a few miles away, attracted by the employment opportunities of a copper mine and a salmon cannery. The Kasaan Bay Mining Company built new cottages for the villagers. At the old site, traditional plank houses and totem poles were left, testifying to an abandoned way of life. Vandalism and outright thievery of the totem poles was so depleting this collection of artifacts that the U.S. Forest Service designated the site a national monument. By the time the wheels of the federal government had turned, however, it was too late: the village was destroyed by fire on 25 August 1915. The site was designated a monument over a year later; apparently officials in Washington had not been informed of the disaster. After years of uncertainty concerning the proper treatment of Old Kasaan, restoration was judged impossible or impractical, and the designation was revoked in 1955.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland

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