Native Village
Youth and Education news

Volume 4  February 2012 
Tiny NW tribe to have totem pole installed at Smithsonian
Condensed by Native Village

The Boxleys' totem pole, "The Eagle and the Chief," is currently being completed by the artists on public view in the Potomac Atrium of the American Indian Museum.
Photo by Katherine Fogden

Tsimshian First Nation Geographic LocationAmong the stately cedars of the Kitsap Peninsula, David Boxley is carving a niche for his people.

"I've been wishing for this since I heard the museum was going to happen," he said from the workspace outside his home in Kingston.

Boxley is a member of the Tsimshian tribe, located on a 10-mile-long island near Ketchikan, Alaska. Only about 10,000 members remain. Barely 100 still speak the native tongue.

"It's a culture than came close to disappearing," says Boxley.

David Boxley is a world reknown wood carver and a former high school teacher.  These days his energies are focused on keeping the tribe's culture alive. His work is displayed all over the world.

He even has a 40-foot totem pole at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center.

Boxley's reputation has now earned his latest work, a 22-foot tall totem, a place at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

"We're reaching all across this country and placing this very significant part of our culture for the world to see," said Boxley. "This is a privilege."

Boxley is helping rebuild Tsimshian by teaching the totem tradition to younger tribal members who travelled down to Washington. He's also teaching it to his very own son. The younger Boxley, also named David, says this rare opportunity has been rewarding.

"This is about watching our culture live," he said.

The young Boxley mentioned it's also a bit stressful.

"Every once in a while I'll say, 'Hey dad, this is gonna go to the Smithsonian!' Normally you'd expect someone to be all excited, but instead he says, 'stop saying that. You're making me nervous! I just want this to be done!'"

The totem pole is 22 feet long and carved from a log weighing 3,000 pounds.

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February 2012 Headlines Native Village Home Page

Native Village Gina Boltz
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