Sitka National Historical Park

09/18/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/19/2021 01:21

Traditional “Work” Canoe to be Carved in the Park this Fall

News Release Date:
September 18, 2021

Contact: Cinnamon Dockham, 907-747-0132

Park maintenance staff brought out the heavy machinery this week and made room in the carving shed to start a new project. Tommy Joseph (Naal'xák'w) and his apprentice, Tim Flannery (Gaanax aya yáada), will be carving a traditional dugout 'work' canoe out of a 25-foot Sitka Spruce log.
A work canoe is less ornamental than ceremonial canoes and are built for daily activity that require it to be sturdy for extensive travel and well balanced to carry gear, fishing nets, hunting equipment, or supplies. 'Think of it as the Ford or Chevy of canoes.' Tommy said recently. 'No artistic painting or carving will be added, it's all about function.'
Tommy's apprentice, Tim, comes from the Gaanax.ádi Raven clan, Mink house. He is a young Tlingit carver from Ketchikan, working with Tommy to further develop his skills in the art of canoe carving. Tim has carved smaller canoes, and has navigated in canoes to Celebrations, but this is his first time carving a canoe of this magnitude. Apprenticeships like this offer an incredible opportunity perpetuate an art form that is central to Southeast Alaska Native Culture.
Together they will create a seaworthy work vehicle, much like the vessels of ancestors' past.Tommy and Tim plan to be in the carving shed most weekdays from 9am-3pm, and occasionally on weekends until the project is complete.
Visitors are welcome to come watch the carvers work, ask questions and watch the canoe take shape in real time. You can also follow their progress on the park's social media pages, where the park will highlight milestones in the transition from log to canoe.