Alaska State Museum conservator Ellen Carrlee stands in a raised bucket of a truck provided by Alaska Electric Light & Power as she inspects the Yaxté Totem Pole at the Auke Village Recreation Area. (Courtesy / Pete Schneider)

Alaska State Museum conservator Ellen Carrlee stands in a raised bucket of a truck provided by Alaska Electric Light & Power as she inspects the Yaxté Totem Pole at the Auke Village Recreation Area. (Courtesy / Pete Schneider)

Standing strong: Community effort helps inspect 80 year-old totem pole

“We couldn’t have done it without them”

A group effort helped a local totem pole continue to stand the test of time more than eight decades after it was raised.

The Yaxté Totem Pole — erected in 1941 at the Auke Village Recreation Area and carved by Tlingit master carver Frank St. Claire of Hoonah — was able to get a much-needed maintenance inspection after not having one formally by a conservator since 2017 when it needed to undergo extensive repairs.

The inspection was able to happen through a group effort between the U.S. Forest Service who coordinated the inspection, Alaska State Museum conservator Ellen Carrlee who conducted the inspection and Alaska Electric Light & Power, which provided the bucket truck and crew support.

We couldn’t have done it without them,” said Pete Schneider, recreation staff officer for the Forest Service.

Maintenance of the area falls to the Forest Service, but Schneider said the Forest Service knew of Carrlee’s expertise and, once asked, Schneider said she was more than willing to assist with the inspection.

Schneider said AEL&P also didn’t hesitate to help out when asked to borrow a bucket truck and also brought a crew to assist with the inspection.

Schneider said though still preliminary, the inspection seemed to show small damage likely due to woodpeckers, which is a common occurrence, but said Carrlee did not point to any major issues though a final report is still pending.

“It was really great to see such strong community support and effort,” Schneider said.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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