A Tale of Two Totem Poles – the challenge and complexity of Native art acquisition and stewardship

Authors: Jeanne P. Leader

Disciplines: Art, History, Native American Studies, Political Science and Public Administration, Sociology

Themes: Activism, Community Development, Cultural Preservation, Education Reform, Indian Identity, Leadership, Sacred Sites, Treaty Rights and Sovereignty

Tribes: Tlingit, Tulalip

With interest in reflecting and incorporating Native American culture on its campus, Everett Community College (EvCC) commissioned a totem pole that was never completed. Poor communication led to major errors in decision-making and a subsequent totem pole, which was intended as a restorative measure, came with its own challenges. Exploration of the history of these two totem poles at EvCC is an opportunity to examine the complexity involved with these works and the intentional processes that must be developed to be effective stewards of art work that comes with inherent cultural implications.