Dramatically altering the patronage and display of historic Tlingit and Haida crests, this New Deal restoration project had two key aims: to provide economic aid to Native people during the Depression and to recast their traditional art as part of America's heritage. Less evident is why Haida and Tlingit people agreed to lend their crest monuments to tourist attractions at a time when they were battling the US Forest Service for control of their traditional lands and resources. Drawing on interviews and government records, as well as the totem poles themselves, Emily Moore shows how Tlingit and Haida leaders were able to channel the New Deal promotion of Native art as national art into an assertion of their cultural and political rights. Just as they had for centuries, the poles affirmed the ancestral ties of Haida and Tlingit lineages to their lands.
Supported by the Jill and Joseph McKinstry Book Fund