Proud Raven, Panting Wolf Carving Alaska’s New Deal Totem Parks

Emily L. Moore

Among Southeast Alaska’s best-known tourist attractions are its totem parks, showcases for monumental wood sculptures by Tlingit and Haida artists. Although the art form is centuries old, the parks date back only to the waning years of the Great Depression, when the US government reversed its policy of suppressing Native practices and began to pay Tlingit and Haida communities to restore older totem poles and move them from ancestral villages into parks designed for tourists.

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.

Moore Proud cover


  • $39.95 cloth, 978-0-2957-4393-6
  • $39.95 ebook, 978-0-2957-4394-3
  • 288 pages
  • 105 illus., 19 in color, 7 x 10 in.

about the author

Emily Moore is assistant professor of Art History at Colorado State University, where she teaches Native American and American art history courses, among others. Raised in Ketchikan, Alaska, she earned her M.A. (2007) and Ph.D. (2012) in the History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley; she also has an M.F.A. (2004) in Creative Writing from West Virginia University. Professor Moore's research focuses on contemporary and historic North American Native arts, as well as the inclusion (and exclusion) of Native arts in American and world art histories.