Ketchikan Totem Poles

Chief Kyan Totem

Chief Kyan Totem

Ketchikan features the world’s largest collection of totem poles. They’re all over the town, in public places as well as people’s front yards. We saw only a small number of them on our mobility scooter tour. A good reason to go back to Ketchikan–I’d love to see a lot more!

I’m trying something different in this post. I’m breaking the post into several pages, with just a few larger pictures per page, rather than a page full of thumbnails. Let me know if you like this format better. You can still click the pictures here to see the full size versions.

So this page is about the …

Chief Kyan Totem Pole

Chief George Kyan (1857-1955) was the Tlingit chief who sold 160 acres on Ketchikan Creek in 1885 to a man named Mike Martin to found the fishing camp that became the town of Ketchikan.

This pole is a replica of the original pole, which was erected by Kyan in the 1880s. The current pole, dating to 1993, was carved by Tlingit master carver Israel Shotridge, who carved most of the poles you’ll see here.

Chief Kyan's Thunderbird


Brown Bear

Brown Bear

The pole has three figures. At the top is a crane, representing Kyan’s wife. In the middle is a thunderbird, his wife’s clan. At the bottom is Kyan’s family crest, the brown bear. (I love his paws!) I got shots of the thunderbird and bear, but sadly my shot of the crane didn’t come out.

Legend says touching the pole will bring you fortune. Our guide didn’t tell us that, so we didn’t touch the pole. Next time!

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