Náay I’waans / Chief Son-I-Hat’s Whale House and Totem Park

By Kavilco Editor | November 2, 2023

A Joint Project with Kavilco Incorporated and the Organized Village of Kasaan

Chief Son-I-Hat Whale House/Náay I´waans, arguably the most valuable cultural asset in the Village of Kasaan, is critically in need of repairs and restoration. The house has deteriorated to the extent that the building exterior enclosure, including walls and roof, has begun to collapse.

Chief Son-I-Hat’s Whale House/Náay I´waans and Totems Historic District is located in Kasaan on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. It consists of Chief Son-I-Hat’s Whale House and frontal pole with eight additional poles which are either restored originals or copies of the original poles from the Old Kasaan village site. The park was established in the late 1930s as part of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project with James Peele, son of Chief Son-I-Hat, as the chief carver at New Kasaan. James Peele was father to Kavilco shareholder David Peele.

Son I Hats House in 1932

In 1880, Chief Son-I-Hat (Kóyongxung), a Yáadaas clan (Eagle moiety) chief, built Náay I´waans (Whale House) near Kasaan Bay northwest of New Kasaan and lived there with his family until 1915. In 1938, the CCC employed local Natives to rebuild Náay I´waans, since it had not been occupied sinceWhale House, 1938. the Chief left and had become badly deteriorated. The walls and roof had caved in, but the basic timbers were sound with little decay. The interior roof support house posts (see above) remained. According to Dr. Viola Garfield, who researched the Haida from 1935 to 1970, the posts had been carved to represent “Coon-Ahts who captured the monster Gonaqadate, got into its skin and hunted whales for his mother-in-law.” The carving of these two poles had been assigned to brothers, so although the poles are basically identical, each pole has unique details. Also remaining was the center house post that Chief Son-I-Hat had brought from his uncle’s house after his uncle died.

CCC representatives obtained permission from James Peele to restore the house and its totem. The Whale House frontal pole was copied from the original and replaced. Considerable effort was expended in drawing plans for an accurate reproduction. Experienced Native craftsmen who utilized traditional tools and woodworking methods were employed to reconstruct the house and various poles from Old Kasaan. Great attention was paid to duplicating traditional formulas for coloring the poles. The CCC reconstruction of the Whale House stands as a remarkable example of Native craftsmanship and as a faithful reconstruction of an Alaska Haida community house. Due to its isolated location, this site retains an element of originality and mood often lacking in reconstructions or replicas which have been modified or decorated in a nontraditional manner.

In 1938, the National Park Service, who had acquired the area of Old Kasaan and dedicated it as a National Monument in 1916, negotiated with the Peele, Thomas and Young families to move several totems from Old Kasaan to New Kasaan, provided none of these monuments were moved to Ketchikan. Nine poles were moved to New Kasaan and renovated.

Cultural Resource Evaluation of the Old Kasaan Village Site and New Kasaan Community House and Totem Park

In 1981, Kavilco allowed an archaeological study of Old Kasaan and the Whale House and totems in New Kasaan. Despite the fact that Old Kasaan had been designated a National Monument from 1916 until 1955, not much had been done to preserve it. Many of the totems and a few of the houses were moved to museums and the Totem Park in Ketchikan in an effort to save them from thieves and vandals. By 1981, all of the structures in Old Kasaan had largely decayed into the soil. Outlines of foundations and recesses of graves were all that remained.

The study did find that despite the lack of a rigorous maintenance program, the Whale House fared remarkably well during the 40 years since it was completed. However, in the mid-1990s many noticed that the foundation timbers were showing signs of decay. Kavilco’s Board of Directors felt it was time to take action before Kasaan’s only remaining example of traditional Native architecture disappeared.

Totem Park

Son-I-Hat Frontal Pole

Son-I-Hat Frontal Pole

Son-I-Hat Frontal Pole.This 50-foot pole stands in front of the House between the House and the water. The pole, copied from the original, was carved in 1939 by James Peele. A circa 1936 photograph shows the original pole, listing slightly, in front ofhe House. The original was buried 10 feet in the ground according to Chester R. Snow, Construction Engineer for the CCC. Snow talks about searching for an appropriate tree for the Son-I-Hat pole.

Sitting Bear totem

Sitting Bear Grave Marker

The Sitting Bear Grave Marker was moved from Old Kasaan on January 30, 1939 to the Whale House site. It was re-carved from the original. It stood over Peter Jones’ father’s grave and was located inside a small grave house at the west end of the village.

Killer Whale Grave Figure

Killer Whale Grave Figure

The Killer Whale Grave figure is a CCC copy. The original, which was sited on the top of a grave house roof, was discarded. The original was photographed on the grave house roof, on the beach in Old Kasaan, and in 1940 in New Kasaan.Killer Whale totem.

Spencer Totem - detail top

Spencer Pole

The 40-foot Spencer Pole was raised by Kate Gamede, a Kasaan woman of Táas Láanas clan, as a memorial to her husband, a photographer from Victoria, BC. The image of Mr. Spencer appears at the top of the pole; below appear scroll patterns; Raven carrying the moon in his mouth; and Black Skin, the strong man, holding the sea lion. The last figure illustrates a story familiar to the Haida and Tlingit; a weak boy who trained and finally overcame all of his stronger relatives. His chief exploit was tearing a sea lion in two to the consternation of his companions. This pole was taken down on December 22, 1938 in Old Kasaan and barged to the new site where it was adzed and re-carved by David Peele.

Frog / Two Eagle Memorial Pole

Frog/Two Eagle Memorial Pole

Frog Memorial Pole. This is a copy of one of two mortuary posts, called Two Eagle Memorial Pole. The original of this 15-foot pole belonged to the Eagle Leg House in Old Kasaan. The original pole with a frog carved on the front and two eagle figures at the top was apparently burned.

Back Potlatch Ring (Flying Groundhog) Pole

Back Potlatch Ring (Flying Groundhog) Pole

This 40-foot pole was re-carved and the flying groundhog was replaced with an eagle in 1939.

Ha´u (East House) Pole

Ha´u (East House) Pole

Sources recount that a man from the Tlingit village of Kake carved this pole, as the owners were of Tlingit descent on their mother’s side. The pole belonged to the grandfather of Son-I-Hat who actually had the name “East.” The figures on the pole from the top are described as the “father of us all, ”Raven, killer whale, and Raven with a human figure onfront, with Root on the bottom.” Walter Young worked onthe restoration of this pole, which once belonged to his father. The pole that now stands in the totem park at NewKasaan is the repaired original pole.

Skáwaal Pole (aka First Eagle Pole)

Skáwaal Pole (aka First Eagle Pole)Skowl Pole detail.

This pole is about 50-feet high and was one of two poles which stood in front of Chief Skáwaal’s Rib House. When the pole was moved to New Kasaan, the thunderbird figure at the top was replaced and the surface was carved down to solid wood during the CCC restoration. The carved figures below the ring appear the same for each pole: Raven with the moon in its beak; Raven holding his beak bent down in his hands; and at the base, a bear with cubs in its mouth. This pole was removed from the village and restored at New Kasaan.

Bear Pole detail

Bear Memorial Pole

This copy of the original pole is about 20-feet tall.

Interior House Posts

The three interior carved house posts (gotz) are originals from Old Kasaan. These posts were not re-carved, apparently, during the CCC years. The outer two are alike in totemic design, each depicting the common whale and the “man of the sea.” Because of these totems the building has always been known as the Whale House (Náay I´waans). Each post is approximately 12’ 6” high and carries the large horizontal adzed log (zance ´ka geet´). The corner posts represent the story of “gunaakadeet,” the wealth giver from under the sea.

Interior House Posts - before restorationMr. Peele was unable to tell the story of the center house post in English. After a lengthy discussion in Haida with some of the other Natives, he said it was called the “Head House” totem. This post is older than the two house posts on either side. It was moved to the Whale House when it was built in 1880. The center post belonged to Son-I-Hat’s uncle and was brought to Kasaan after the uncle’s death as part of his heritage.

Kasaan Haida Heritage Foundation

With the help of Kavilco’s staff and Board of Directors, KHHF began researching the best methods of preserving the Whale House and totems. Kavilco’s funds could not be used since that would reduce the annual shareholder dividends. Grant funds were available, but before KHHF could apply for those funds the Whale House and totems had to be designated as a National Historic Site. Kavilco President/CEO Louis Thompson completed the application for this designation and on June 11, 2002, Chief Son-I-Hat’s Whale House and Totems Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Because of the lack of maintenance by the U.S. Forest Service since the early 1940s, the Whale House and totems have fallen into disrepair. The only Haida clan house in Alaska is in serious danger of being lost through deterioration. KHHF is eager to dedicate its resources toward the goal of restoring the Whale House to a sound condition and are seeking grants and appropriations funds to that end. With its unity of context this site has considerable potential for interpretive and/or display purposes, as well as serving as a meaningful locale for ceremonial or other community functions.

MRV Architects

KHHF contracted with MRV Architects in 2007 to perform a condition survey of the house and surrounding cultural area, including eight carved totem poles. That initial conceptual reconnaissance and report, prepared by MRV and Alaska Cultural Resources (Mary Pat Wyatt), identified critical problems with the building, and next steps for upgrade and stabilization.

In 2008, with grant funds from the National Park Service, Kavilco again contracted with MRV to perform a more detailed Schematic analysis of the building itself. Those services included the addition of BBFM Engineers, who worked with MRV to establish general extent of rot, and analyze overall structural stability of the building. The final Schematic report included detailed drawings, narratives, cost estimates, and strategy for possible construction approaches

Click on the PDF links below to view MRV Architects reports.

  • 2007 Architectural Narrative
  • 2007 Cultural Narrative
  • 2011 Proposal Package
  • Memorandum of Understanding

In 2009, Kavilco and KHHF partnered with the Organized Village of Kasaan (OVK) by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with OVK President Richard Peterson. The working relationship between Kavilco, KHHF and OVK was set up to best capitalize on the site proximity of OVK, their personnel, and potential access of OVK to other grant fund sources. Since that time, OVK has organized an active fundraising and publicity effort to lead initial steps to protect the building while additional funding is secured for more involved restoration work.

OVK contracted with MRV Architects to develop a detailed proposal for Kavilco, KHHF and OVK consideration, identifying steps to move forward on the overall restoration project. The construction process uses a number of sequential phases, allowing the highest priority portions of the work to be initiated, while funds are pursued for subsequent portions of the work.

Kavilco and KHHF provided immediate authorization in November 2011 to initiate Phase I work to arrest on-going deterioration of the structure and house posts, while the broader approach and recommendations of MRV’s plan are evaluated for adoption by Kavilco, KHHF and OVK.

The general phasing strategy by MRV proposes stand-alone phases that will allow the project to move forward sequentially, in a priority basis, and working in smaller cost increments that are more likely to be achievable with available grant funding.

A Southeast Alaskan carving team consisting of several lead and apprentice carvers from Hydaburg and Kasaan will be utilized to complete all carving and construction activities. Initial fabrication of replacement wood framing members will be accomplished in Hydaburg, with final installation and detailed wood finishing done on-site in Kasaan.

The project will use traditional carving and construction knowledge, tools and techniques to renovate the Whale House in as traditional manner as possible. Temporary power, through the use of an on-site generator may be brought in for the construction phase if needed. Materials will either be barged to the beach or carried to the site by hand.

Fundraising Requirements

Recent estimates have placed the cost of the phased renovation work at approximately $1.4 million. Originally discussed construction features such as an access road, and the addition of power have been dropped. Performing much of the initial wood carving in Hydaburg, rather than on-site, has also reduced costs.

With the concurrence of Kavilco and KHHF, OVK will take the lead on securing funding; both for the renovation work as identified, and for ongoing maintenance needs of the Whale House. OVK will be responsible for overseeing the administration of all grant funds, timelines, work plans, and reporting. OVK will report to Kavilco and KHHF at mutually agreed milestones to assure that all parties understand the status and needs of the project.

Gásaáan Xaadas Guusuu Project (Kasaan Haida Elders Speak)

By Kavilco Editor | November 2, 2023

Julia Coburn - August 2010

Julia Coburn – August 2010

In 2001, KHHF developed a project entitled “Gásaáan Xaadas Guusuu” or “Kasaan Haida Elders Speak,” in order to gather and preserve the oral testimonies of seven remaining Kasaan Haida Elders. After receiving a grant from Alaska Humanities Forum, we conducted a series of both audio and video recordings in Kasaan and Ketchikan. Our aim was to make the edited versions available to both Kasaan Haida descendants and others, including teachers and researchers.

The late Willard Lear Jones (Nástao, 1930-2007), himself a Haida Elder (Táas Láanas, Raven-Brown Bear clan), headed the project. Dr. Jeane Breinig (Haida) and Eleanor Hadden (Haida, Willard’s daughter) recorded audio and served as interviewers. Media Specialist, Frederick O. Olsen, Jr. (Haida), created a half-hour video documentary.

For the production, Elders offered their experiences of growing up in Kasaan with both historical information and interesting stories. They also shared some Haida words and phrases. The late Dr. Erma G. Lawrence (Áljuhl, Ts’eihl ‘Láanaas Eagle clan,1912-2011), sang “How Great Thou Art” in Haida.

The generous monetary and in-kind donations by Kasaan Haida descendants made the project possible. We received additional support from Sealaska Heritage Institute and the Organized Village of Kasaan.

Conclusion. We successfully completed the project in 2002 and viewed the documentary during Kavilco’s Annual Meeting on November 9, 2002. The original audio tapes of the interviews with the transcripts are housed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral Depository. In 2003, Dr. Breinig showed the documentary at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau.

Listen to Our Elders Speak

…a small collection of words and phrases recorded by Frederick O. Olsen, Jr. in 2002, with Native speakers Julia Coburn and the late Dr. Erma G. Lawrence.

Learn more.

Dr. Erma G. Lawrence and Julia Coburn singing "How Great Thou Art" at the 2005 KHHF Annual Dinner and Auction.

Dr. Erma G. Lawrence and Julia Coburn singing at the KHHF Annual Dinner and Auction.Dr. Erma G. Lawrence and Julia Coburn singing “How Great Thou Art” at the 2005 KHHF Annual Dinner and Auction.

Relationship with Rayonier

By Kavilco Editor | October 25, 2023

A Rayonier logger fells a tree in 1981.

Kavilco’s contract with Rayonier concluded on December 31, 2001. To commemorate that association we have collected information from Kavilco’s records and Rayonier’s website to create the story of the 23-year relationship. Like many long-term relationships, there have been ups and downs, but everyone would agree, it was profitable.

Rayonier started out in 1926, as Rainier Pulp and Paper Company, opening their first mill in Shelton, Washington. Rayonier was the first to recognize an opportunity to use the area’s plentiful Western hemlock tree species for the production of a superior grade of bleached paper pulp. Later their scientists teamed up with DuPont, the leading producer of rayon, and perfected the world’s first pulp made from hemlock and rayon, designed especially for the growing rayon industry. The name was derived from combining the word “rayon” and Mt. Rainier.

After becoming publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 1937, Rayonier began to expand its interests to the Southeastern part of the United States, completing their first pulp mill in Florida in 1939, and in Georgia in 1954. The mill in Georgia quickly doubled in size to meet the growing demand and offices were opened in Europe. Markets were developed in the Far East and offices were opened in Asia. In 1968, Rayonier became a wholly owned subsidiary of ITT Corporation and became known as ITT Rayonier.

Kavilco is Born

In 1971, ANCSA created Native village corporations, granting each village corporation entitlement to acreage of their choosing. An integral part of the ANCSA agreement was that the Native village corporations would have the rights to all of the assets on the surface of those lands, including timber rights. ANCSA land entitlement was based on the number of shareholders. Kavilco was the smallest village corporation in Southeast Alaska, having only 120 shareholders.

The First Sale

In October of 1979, Kavilco accepted a bid from ITT Rayonier to buy approximately 100 million board feet of timber for $25 million, mainly in the Skowl Arm area of Kavilco’s timber holdings. Board members Roberta Campbell, Helen Dailey, Ramona Hamar, John McAllister, Fred Olsen, Sr., David Peele, Rosemarie Young Trambitas, Estelle Thompson, and Louis A. Thompson had entertained offers from several other timber corporations before settling on Rayonier. Rayonier gave Kavilco $1.1 million as a bid deposit, the first payment of $7.17 million dollars (less bid deposit) to be received as soon as the property was legally conveyed to Kavilco from the Bureau of Land Management.

This first sale produced considerable interest in industry circles because of its size and price. Including interest, the sale to ITT Rayonier of timber in the Skowl Arm area could bring as much as $280 per thousand board feet, which was remarkably higher than most other Southeast Alaska Native Corporation timber sales.

Kavilco finally received the land patent from the United States on December 5, 1979, making it the first village corporation in Southeastern Alaska to receive all of its land entitlement under ANCSA. The land patent entitled the corporation to the surface estate, meaning everything above ground. The ANCSA law gave the regional corporation (Sealaska) a patent to the rights to the subsurface estate. As promised, Rayonier made the first payment and Kavilco paid each of its shareholders $25,000 in January 1980, for a total initial shareholder distribution of $3,000,000. The distribution was the largest single payment made to individual shareholders of a Native corporation (at that time) since ANCSA was passed in 1971.

Benefits for Shareholders

Kavilco Board, 1982In addition to the initial distribution, the Board of Directors and General Manager of Kavilco planned a distribution of $100 per share to each shareholder every year for the next 10 years. Each shareholder having 100 shares would receive $10,000 annually for 10 years, or $100,000 by 1990. Adding the initial $25,000 payment to this totaled $125,000!

Imagine, in 1979, the Village of Kasaan did not have a road connecting it to the rest of Prince of Wales Island. They had only one telephone in the village, located in the community building. A person would have to use a boat or floatplane to travel around the island to get fuel, supplies, or medical care. Part of Kavilco’s commitment to its shareholders was to improve conditions in Kasaan. Kavilco donated 20 cedar poles from their land for a new Kasaan Community Building foundation, land and gravel for a fuel storage facility, and installed a second telephone in Kasaan. SawmillIn 1981, KavilcoKasaan Forest Products sawmill. opened Kasaan Forest Products, its very own timber company. The plan was to hire village residents to cut select timber and mill it into lumber at its own sawmill, then to be shipped to specialty buyers. Kavilco built and equipped the sawmill and the first customer was the Village of Kasaan.

Rayonier formed a Foundation in 1952, to contribute charitable donations to causes in the communities in which it operated. In 1980, Rayonier made available to the Board of Directors information about its education grants. Beginning in 1980, Rayonier annually contributed $2,500 to be used by Kavilco shareholders for education. The Board of Directors selected a committee to pick the winners of the grant. These grants continued until 1988, for a total of $17,500 given to Kavilco shareholders. We have attempted to list all of the recipients here: Karla Olsen-Smith, Fred Olsen, Jr., Patrick Olsen, Thomas Hanbury, III, Jeane Breinig, Jessie Cook, and Brian Coburn.

In 1980, Rayonier established a customer base in China, only one year after the restoration of U.S./China diplomatic relations. Trade overseas was essential because the U.S. economy was in a recession. Interest rates were at all-time highs, housing starts were way down, and the timber market was dropping off. Housing starts in China, however, were way up, and companies within the Peoples Republic were experimenting with capitalism by competing against each other for international trade.

T I M B E R!

The U.S. timber market was in a terrible downward spiral that did not level off until 1987. The original timber “cruise” or inventory that was done for all of the Southeast Alaska Native corporations had overstated the quantity and quality of Kavilco’s timber holdings. Kavilco hired Forest and Land Management, Inc., an independent firm, to conduct a more accurate inventory and discovered the errors were substantial. Rayonier conducted their own inventory and confirmed the lower numbers.

One year after the sales contract had been signed the timber market was down, the inventory was down, and the quality of the inventory was not what anyone had anticipated it would be. This created a loss on paper of millions of board feet of timber and a “write-down” in the value of the timber from $61,234,318 in 1982 to $46,655,168 in 1983. Things were so grim that at one point Rayonier’s CEO wrote a letter to Kavilco asking to be let out of the 1979 contract. In 1984, Kavilco again had to write-down the value of its marketable timber to $14,548,00, this time due to the plummeting timber market.

In 1984 and 1985, Rayonier suspended their harvest of the Skowl Arm sale area. Quoting from a letter dated July 16, 1985, I. G. Paterson, Alaska manager for ITT Rayonier wrote:

“One reason for the continued shutdown is the very depressed prices and market for medium to low grade cedar that comprises more than 50% of the remaining timber on the sale area.”

Rayonier asked for an extension on the sales contract, which would have ended December 31, 1986, to December 31, 1988, with a four-year extension option to 1992 without penalty. Kavilco’s Board of Directors voted to deny the extension, preferring to adhere to the original contract, which states that Rayonier could extend the contract up to two years at $100,000 per year.

Kasaan Forest Products struggled to make a profit. Problems over the years with equipment and a lack of regular paying customers were having a negative effect on Kavilco’s bottom line. Kavilco ceased the solicitation of timber and at the end of 1984, the sawmill was closed.

During the Board meetings of 1985, the Directors were hammered with information about the continued decline in the timber industry. The only place, it seemed, where Rayonier could sell the timber it harvested was in China. In fact, Rayonier was one of only two timber companies that employed a full-time representative in the Peoples Republic.

China Comes to Town

Negotiations with Chongqing International Economic and Technical Cooperative Company (CIETCC)Kavilco explored the possibility of selling another portion of their timber holdings directly to China. Sales negotiations were conducted with Chongqing International Economic and Technical Cooperative Company (CIETCC) of China and they sent a delegation to Kasaan via their sister city, Seattle. A draft of an agreement on the framework to establish a joint venture corporation between Kavilco and CIETCC was drawn up. The only sticking point was the fact that the CIETCC wanted to bring in Chinese laborers to fell and load the logs. The Chinese felt so strongly about this issue that the whole deal hinged on that point. Kavilco wrote letters to the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Economic Development in Alaska and received this response from Greg Baker, Deputy Commissioner:
“Although the State encourages joint ventures and foreign investment in Alaska, you should be aware that the use of foreign labor would be unacceptable to many people of the State. The Governor is strongly in favor of Alaska hire, which he included as an important part of his platform when running for Governor. Alaskan First, an organization dedicated to working for preferential hiring of qualified Alaska workers, would not support the use of foreign workers as there are numerous qualified Alaska loggers looking for work. We understand your point of using Chinese labor as a cost savings, but the federal minimum wage requirements would still apply.”

Rayonier and the NOL

In August 1986, Rayonier wrote to Kavilco indicating that they would be extending the contract for one year until December 31, 1987, and would pay the extension fee.

In October 1986, Kavilco entered into a partnership with Drexel Burnham Lambert, wherein Kavilco agreed to sell their remaining timber creating a net operating loss (NOL); they would then sell the NOL to Drexel.

In January 1987, it became clear that there was no hope of Kavilco making a direct sale to China so Kavilco struck a deal with Rayonier to sell the rest of the standing timber for $1,500,000 in February. This deal helped Rayonier offset their losses on the original sale and allowed Kavilco to establish the net operating loss required in their contract with Drexel. Rayonier signed a note to make payments over the course of the contract period until December 31, 2001. Kavilco, in turn, sold a portion of their NOL to Drexel for $15,819,583, over $1,000,000 more than the timber was valued at in 1984. The terms of the payment were $321,667 in cash and a promissory note for $15,715,983 bearing interest at 12 percent, payable annually.

Carrying On

With the timber market finally showing signs of moderate recovery, Rayonier began harvesting again. They completed their harvest from Smith Cove and Kasaan Island, and began work on the Peninsula.

An integral part of harvesting logs is the creation of a road system to transport cut trees to transfer and sorting yards. Rayonier created three miles of road on Kasaan Island: 8.4 miles in the Paul’s Bight area, 49.9 miles in the Smith Cove area, 25.6 miles of road in the Lyman Anchorage area, and some in the Jacob Mountain area for that purpose. Once the timber was sorted it was trucked to Lyman for rafting or barge loading.

Many different logging companies, or sub-contractors, worked on harvesting or road construction. Depending on the area being cut, different methods were used such as high lead towers, shovel logging in smaller, level harvest units, and helicopter logging for more difficult terrain.

In 1992, Rayonier gained control over extensive timberlands in New Zealand, and in 1994, once again became an independent public corporation in a spin-off from ITT. In 1995, they moved their main operations from the Northwest to the Southeastern part of the United States with completion of a state-of-the-art research facility in Georgia. Rayonier still maintains two core interests, Timber and Land, and Performance fibers. They are now headquartered in Florida.

Closure

The contract between Kavilco and Rayonier required the closing of all the logging roads, the removal of all bridge crossings and culverts, and that exposed soil on steep slopes be seeded with grass to prevent erosion. This was completed by the summer of 2002. The State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources conducted an inspection afterwards to confirm that environmental laws have been met.

Kavilco owes a great deal to its relationship with Rayonier. We wish Rayonier all the best in the future and “Háw’aa!”

The Watchman

By Kavilco Editor | October 25, 2023

Original WatchmanFrom 2006 – 2014 Board meetings and annual meetings were opened and closed with this hand carved Watchman inspired by traditional Haida totems. It represents the spirits keeping an eye on proceedings to make sure the right things get done. Symbolically, watchmen kept an eye out for friends returning from a hunt, enemies, weather, animals, and anything else that might be of interest to the tribe.

President/CEO Louis A. Thompson carved the current Watchman in 2006, after the original Watchman was stolen from his briefcase during a Board meeting. His inspiration came from a photograph of a mortuary pole taken in Old Kasaan during the late 1960s. He carved it from the wood of a 250-year-old yew tree and gave him eyes of local abalone shell.

Original Watchman

The original Watchman was carved by Our current President Louis L. Jones, Sr. It was initially intended as the end of a halibut hook. Mr. Jones was inspired toOriginal Watchman. create the Watchman after seeing a Haida watchman on the corner post of a long house in Ketchikan, Alaska. It was carved from alder wood, sitting on a beach log with a walking stick under his chin; his watchful eyes made of abalone shell.