Sitka wood carver Tommy Joseph comes to the Anchorage Museum

Last week Tommy Joseph, a Tlnigit wood carver from Sitka, came to the Anchorage Museum to refurbish a totem pole he carved 15 years ago. “We’re just cleaning the surface, and then I’m going to refresh the paint, put new paint on it, and treat the wood,” Joseph said to a crowd of about a half dozen that came to the museum last Friday.

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The totem pole was recently donated to the Anchorage Museum by Alaska grocery store owners Larry and Wilma Carr. At roughly 10-feet in length, the red, black and green carving has a crow adorning the bottom half. A man with his arms crossed is carved onto the top. It’s one of a handful of totem poles on display at the Anchorage Museum, but Joseph’s work is exhibited all over the world.  “I’ve got them in California, Washington, Ohio, Chicago, Iowa, Pennsylvania, London, Germany, New Zealand,” he said.

In a way Joseph is a cultural ambassador for the Tlingit, and he’s excited to bring his carving to Anchorage. “It’s all about educating and sharing our culture with people,” he said. “It gives me the opportunity to go to places I probably wouldn’t have gone before and tell their story but the way we do in a totem pole.”

Joseph will be working on the totem pole through the week. Once restored it will be displayed inside the museum. In Anchorage, I’m Joaquin Palomino.


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