Famous Alaska totem pole damaged by carpenter ants

KETCHIKAN, Alaska — Carpenter ants have damaged one of Ketchikan’s most recognizable totem poles.

The Ketchikan Daily News reports the Seward totem pole is a famous example of a Tlingit ridicule or shame pole. The top part of the pole was removed Friday after a resident of Saxman totem park noticed that it was beginning to fall.

A loose facial piece was removed and then a chain saw was used to take off the rest of the pole’s top.

Saxman Mayor Harvey Shields says there is money available to replace the pole. The damaged pole is actually a replica of the original.

The Civilian Conservation Corps moved totem poles from villages and set up totem parks, such as the one in Saxman, during the Great Depression. The Saxman park was created in 1938.

Ridicule poles were raised to shame a person or clan. In this case, the person was William H. Seward, the secretary of state under President Abraham Lincoln.

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