Three totem poles have been removed from the Michael J. Burns Building that houses the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. headquarters, including a 30-foot-tall totem outside the building entrance that was removed Friday, with Goldbelt Inc. stating it plans to place them at its headquarters as part of its upcoming 50th-anniversary celebration.
An announcement on the APFC’s Facebook page states the totem pole outside the main entrance was removed Friday, “following the two indoor poles that were already removed.”
“We’re honored to have been the caretakers of the totem poles for the last several decades. It is bittersweet to watch the totems leave our care, but at the same time see the positive impact of their return to Goldbelt,” said APFC CEO Deven Mitchell in a prepared statement.
Tlingit artists Ray Peck and Jim Marks carved the Legends and Beliefs, Creation of Killer Whale and Strongman totems, in addition to the 15 bronze sculptures affixed to the outside of the building, according to APFC’s Facebook post. APFC purchased the building from Goldbelt in 1998, with the contract allowing the Alaska Native Corporation to buy back the art for $1 apiece.
Goldbelt President and CEO McHugh Pierre made the buyback in 2021, according to APFC.
“Goldbelt is thankful for the care and stewardship shown by the APFC to keep these artifacts in top condition,” Pierre said in a prepared statement. “We value our partnership with APFC, and we are proud it calls Juneau home. We look forward to many more years of partnership and collaboration with the APFC.
Goldbelt’s headquarters are in Vintage Business Park near Safeway. The 50th anniversary celebration is scheduled Jan. 4.
The relocation of the totem poles is occurring after APFC leaders said earlier this year they are considering relocating some operations and staff from Juneau to Anchorage. But Tracey Ricker, an APFC broker and property manager who was the project manager on behalf of the corporation for moving the totems, said Monday the planning process began four months ago and had nothing to do with the possible moving some business functions out of town.
“They have a license to remove the artwork and it was triggered because the building was renamed to Michael J. Burns,” she said, noting the structure built in 1991 was originally named Goldbelt Place until it was renamed for APFC’s former longtime executive director after his death several years ago. “It’s got nothing to do with the taking of space up north.”
Furthermore, in addition to Goldbelt wanting the totems at its headquarters for its anniversary celebration, “it was critical that we did not have any additional snow load on the roof in order to take the poles down,” Ricker said.
• Contact Mark Sabbatini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 957-2306.