VETERANS DAY – Military veterans and supporters march in the Veterans Day parade Monday near Crescent Harbor. The small parade was followed by a lunch at the American Legion Hall. On Wednesday, the Honoring Our Veterans Luncheon, sponsored by Sitka Tribe of Alaska, will be held noon to 2 p.m. at the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

September 14, 2015 Community Happenings


Ocean Wave

Quilters Meet

Open to all

Ocean Wave Quilters guild is extending an invitation to former and potential members and anyone interested in meeting Sitka quilters of all kinds to its meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, at Grace Harbor Church.

The guild meets the first Tuesday of the month, September through May, for friendship, creativity and support.

Activities include spring quilt shows; an auction of small quilts and quilt-related items with 100 percent of funds raised going to scholarships for high school seniors and the Sitka Fine Arts Camp; creating blocks for Sitka Cancer Survivors Society raffle quilts; making lap quilts that are distributed to local social service agencies to give to their clients; sponsoring quilting classes; and block and fabric exchanges.

President Megan Pasternak said meetings are open to anyone and membership is not required. Paying the annual dues of $25 entitles one to lower prices on classes and participation in special events, she added.

“Our lives get awfully busy at times but carving out guild meeting time for yourself is something everyone should consider,” Pasternak said. “The sessions and related events are all about camaraderie and sharing. Sharing knowledge and your creativity. There are no quilt police and show-and-tell is held at every meeting.

“Some activities come and go. It all depends on what the membership is wanting to do that year,” said Pasternak.

“One thing that never goes is refreshments,” she said. “You can always count on some great treats and we also have a potluck before the January meeting. My favorite activity!”

Pasternak invites anyone with ideas or questions to call her at 738-2290 or e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Sitkans to Discuss


Kettleson Memorial Library will host a discussion with 12 Stanford University students on the sustainability of Sitka at 5 p.m. Sept. 17.

Over the past three weeks, students have been involved in an intensive field course that has explored the multiple dimensions of sustainability for rural communities in Southeast Alaska.

Hosted by the Sitka Sound Science Center, the students have explored natural resource management through a balance of lectures in the field and classroom, and conversations with salmon fishermen, hatchery workers, forest managers, mill-owners, entrepreneurs, tour-operators, and citizens. 

The four teams of students have been presented with a scenario to develop recommendations for a hypothetical Blue Ribbon Task Force commissioned by the Office of Alaska Gov. Bill Walker. Members of each team will present their perspectives on current and future challenges to sustainability in Southeast Alaska with their recommendations based on insights they have gained during their time in and around Sitka. 

The general public is invited to attend the presentations and participate in discussions following the talk.



Iconic Totem Pole

Will Rise Again

One of the poles along Totem Trail at Sitka National Historical Park fell on Aug. 10, 2015.

It was a gentle fall, though, under the direct supervision of Chief of Maintenance Mike Trainor. Although a  portion of the pathway was closed all morning to passing foot traffic, visitors were still able to watch the procedure from the diminishing shoreline; if they were willing to stand in the rain as the tide came in.

With its careful removal, the Cormorant Memorial Pole began the next phase of its life cycle at Sitka National Historical Park. 

During a regular assessment of the park’s totem poles in 2011, conservators discovered that the Cormorant Pole was beginning to show signs of deterioration. Even though the Cormorant’s hollow head has been repeatedly filled with wood preservative and is capped with a lead helmet, Southeast Alaska’s persistent rain forest drizzle ultimately took its toll. This means the time has come for the Cormorant Memorial Pole to be recarved.

Looking over the old pole’s decayed wings and failing beak, Tlingit carver Tommy Joseph doesn’t know the exact date that elder carver Nathan Jackson created it, but he doesn’t need to. There’s still enough detail left to model the art Jackson has spent his life perpetuating. Joseph is more interested in the blank replacement sitting next to the old pole and getting the hoisting chains he needs to rotate the 26-foot log.

This is not a new process for the master carver. In fact, he’s worked with this tree before. 

Ten years ago when the red cedar was brought in from the southern end of the Tongass National Forest, Joseph was the one who split it lengthwise so two totem poles could be taken from its fresh new grain. He even lent his tools to the Young brothers who turned the first half into the Yaadaas Crest Pole, recarving what is now towering over the park’s entrance. After that, Joseph whittled away the second half’s 50-foot length for various park projects before stashing away the remainder behind the maintenance yard where it sat growing moss. Now it is time to turn this asset into the third generation of the Cormorant Memorial Column. 

For those wanting to see the first generation of this totem, a free stop at the Visitor Center is all that is required. Donated to Alaska Territory Governor John Brady in 1903 from a Tlingit village on Prince of Wales Island, photographic evidence from Tuxekan shows the Cormorant Pole was less than 15 years old at the time it was removed. Travelling to both St. Louis in 1904 and then to Portland, Oregon, in 1905, it came to Sitka in 1906, where it has stayed as a lasting part of this national historical park. Enduring more than 70 years outside, it is now preserved alongside other original poles under the cover of Totem Hall. 

In contrast to traditional poles, the totems at Sitka National Historical Park receive regular maintenance, repairs and even full-blown recarvings in order to ensure both the art and the stories they honor are preserved. Unlike the team efforts that produced both the K’alyaan Pole at the battle site or the Haa Léelk’u Ha’s Kaasdahéeni Deiyi Kootéeyaa Pole in the midst of the serpentine walkway, this season of carving will be done alone. More in tune with Joseph’s 20-year tenure at the park as both artist and educator, he’ll be working next to the Visitor Center every weekday for about the next four weeks. 

Park Superintendent Mary A. Miller commented that, “It’s awesome to have Tommy Joseph back in the carving shed ‘making chips!’  I invite Sitkans and our visiting public to come view the recarving of the Cormorant Pole, visit and be part of our continuing totem pole production and preservation legacy here in Sitka.  Find your park!” 


ALFA Receives

$350,000 Award

The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association has received a $350,000 core capacity award from the Oak Foundation.

This four-year grant contributes to ALFA’s on-going work to support sustainable fisheries and thriving coastal fishing communities through research, policy advocacy and practical solutions. Its projects supported by the Oak Foundation grant award include seafloor mapping, fuel efficiency, bycatch reduction, and inter-generation transfer of fishery access.

“The Oak Foundation commits resources internationally to issues of global social and environmental concern,” ALFA’s Executive Director Linda Behnken stated. “Oaks long-term support of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association conveys both the importance of ALFA’s work and the responsibility we assume for safeguarding Alaska’s fisheries and coastal economies.” 

ALFA is a non-profit association of independent commercial vessel owners and crewmembers. More information is available at: and



Grief Support

Group to Begin

A new grief support group is starting up at St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, beginning Sept. 28.

The group will meet 11 a.m. Mondays, and is open to anyone in the community looking for a safe, supportive place to talk about their grief and loss.

The church is located at 611 Lincoln St. For more information, contact the church at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at 747-3977.


Kidical Mass

Family Bike Set

Cyclists of all ages are invited to join the Kidical Mass family bike ride starting at the playground/tennis courts across from Sheldon Jackson Campus at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19.

The group will bike to Keet Gooshi Heen elementary school for complimentary pedal-powered smoothies, door prizes (including high visibility coats) and activities.

Kidical Mass – – is a legal, safe bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. The first ride was held in 2008 in Eugene, Ore., and has now spread to over a dozen communities throughout North America and beyond. The Sept. 19 ride has been dubbed “Kidical Massive” by the Oregon organizers who estimate that it will be the biggest global family bike ride ever.

Local organizers include the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition, 4-H, UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office, Sitka Community Schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Sitka Community Hospital. For more information call Doug Osborne at 747-0373.



Ranger-Led Talks,

Walks Set at Park

Sitka National Historical Park offers daily guided programs teaching visitors about the park’s natural and cultural resources.

Ranger-guided schedules this week include: Tuesday, noon, Totem Walk and 2:30 p.m. Salmon Talk; Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. Russian American Walking Tour, 1 p.m. Totem Walk and 

2:30 p.m. Salmon Talk; Thursday, 10 a.m. Totem Walk and 2:30 p.m. Salmon Talk; and Friday, 10 a.m. Totem Walk and 1 p.m. Salmon Talk

The Russian-American History Walking Tour leaves from the Russian Bishop’s House. All other ranger-led tours meet at the visitor center. For more information call 747-0110.




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