Alaskan Native Art

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In the Pacific Northwest Cedar trees and other species of trees grow to enormous sizes. Beginning hundreds of years ago, the people of this region used this great resource to produce many things needed to support their family. They made baskets, mats and certain pieces of clothing from the bark and roots of trees. The substantial size of the cedar trees was also perfect for carving canoes, totem poles, masks, ceremonial bowls and other tools or artwork.

Several different designs are carved into the totem poles that together tell a story. Totems were also carved to commemorate a well-respected person's death. The individual designs represent different moieties, or clans. In more recent years, these same designs have been carved into silver and other metals to be worn as jewelry.

In the Tlingit culture, the Eagle and the Raven represent the two most prominent clans, but there are many other beautiful designs.