A totem pole carver is a professional artist, and depending upon his excellence in the craft, his reputation could spread throughout the region. Totem pole carving was traditionally the responsibility of a select group of craftsmen who have been formally trained in an apprenticeship system. A totem is carved by an artist of a clan opposite the clan of the person who commissions it. It was not uncommon for a Haida carver to be commissioned by a Tlingit, or vice versa.
This is most likely a crest pole. The top figure is a man, perhaps the Village Watchman or the pole’s owner. Next is a wolf, recognized by his pointed ears. The bottom figure is salmon.
The figures on this reproduction pole from the Kaigani Haida village of Howkan near Prince of Wales Island are very life-like and distinct as compared with the highly interconnected and overlapping design of many Haida poles. The Tlingit poles usually have figures isolated from one another and present a more rounded and sculpted appearance.
South POW Island and the smaller nearby islands are still occupied by both Tlingits and Haidas. Cultural interchange could have occurred through travel, trade, war, intermarriages or other means of diffusion. The original pole has been preserved and now stands in Totem Hall in the visitor center as a testament to the craftsman in cedar.