William Seward Shame Totem Pole — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: T

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: T – Needs to have two T’s anywhere in the word.

In Saxman, Alaska, stands a totem pole known as the William Seward Shame Pole. William Seward was the US Secretary of State who negotiated the purchase of the Alaska territory from Russia in 1867.  Two years later, after retiring from government service, Seward  visited Tongass Island in Alaska and was honored  with a potlatch — a gift-giving ceremony.  The Tlingit chief  also raised a totem pole with Seward’s likeness on top.  Unfortunately, Seward did not understand the protocol of the Tlingit potlatch, which would require him to host an equivalent potlatch.   After Seward’s visit, when it became obvious that he would not reciprocate with gifts, the chief  had the ears and nose of Seward’s image painted red as a sign of shame.

A replica of the original Tongass Island shame pole was carved in the 1930s and placed in Saxman, a small city near Ketchikan.  (The Saxman Village Totem Park contains replicas of 25 original totem poles.)  The photo below shows the  William Seward Shame Totem Pole as we saw it in 2012.  This totem pole deteriorated until 2014, when it was taken down. Its replacement, considered even more lifelike than the second pole, was erected on April 29, 2017.


This photo was taken in Saxman, Alaska, on May 6, 2012.  Specs are:

Canon SX40 HS, ISO 400, f/4.5, 1/100 sec, 35mm