Through a partnership between the National Park Service and the Sealaska Heritage Institute, Master Canoe Carver Steve Brown, along with carvers TJ Young, Jerrod Galanin, Nick Galanin, and Tommy Joseph are transforming a huge red cedar log into a sea-worthy canoe. Dozens of hours of work and thousands of wood shavings have chipped away at the rough exterior of the log, revealing the underbelly of the canoe, and now the carvers are working on the fine-tuning. The carvers are working on achieving the proper plane angles and degrees of curvature, bringing out the mathematical side of the art of canoe making.
Finely crafted dugout canoes have long been an essential component of Southeast Alaska Native culture. Before the modern era, dugout canoes were functional necessities as well as revered art objects, serving as the primary transportation method for trading, seasonal travel, hunting, fishing and gathering. This carving project seeks to preserve and perpetuate this art form, which is central to the Southeast Alaska Native culture.
Visitors can stop by the park’s visitor center daily between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to see the carvers at work, ask questions, and experience firsthand the incredible transformation of the log.
Sitka National Historical Park has been keeping the public updating on the canoe’s progress with fantastic photos on their Facebook page. Check it out!