Ketchikan Alaska Sign

My Adventures in Ketchikan, Alaska

I love to travel and last year, 2019, was a year of many trips for me. We cruised to Alaska on the Norwegian Joy last July, and it was one of my favorite trips. I shared an overview of it in a previous post and mentioned that I would be sharing about our excursions in future blogs … here is the first one ?

Ketchikan was our first port of call, we were there on July 1, 2019. It was an overcast, day but no rain. After disembarking, we met up with Carol our tour guide from Shoretrips. We were happy to find out that our tour group to Totem Bight was quite small.

Carol was a great guide and because of our group size, she could answer everyone’s questions. Totem poles were used as a way to record history. We learned there are many kinds of totem poles and that they have different meanings. Some are used to welcome or scare off strangers, some celebrate a special occasion like a wedding, some are memorials to remember an important member of the tribe and some are made to shame a person or another tribe who has done something wrong.

The park has a Tlingit clan house and fourteen traditional totems. All are hand-made from red cedar (which is rot resistant). At the entrance, there was a pair of smaller totem poles: a Thunderbird Whale “mortuary pole” and an Eagle “grave marker” – she told us that they actually store the ashes of the deceased in a compartment in the totem pole.

You ever hear that phrase … “low man on the totem pole”? It implies the man has no say or authority in the situation, right? But, in reality, on a real totem pole, the lowest position holds the most importance, and is usually the matriarch of the family.