Salmon Legends Totem + Beaver Legends Totem
Beaver Lake Park
Carved and painted figures tell stories in the Ts'msyan (Tsimshian) tradition.
Before the Ts'msyan people of Alaska and British Columbia had a written language, they used totem poles to help pass stories from one generation to the next. Ts'msyan master carver David Boxley used cedar logs to create this pair of totems for the glen at Beaver Lake Park in Sammamish, WA. Boxley developed both totems during an artist residency that provided thousands of people with an opportunity to learn about Ts'msyan culture.Painted carvings on Boxley’s 30-foot Beaver Legends Totem tell two stories from two Beaver legends: the top three figures recount The Beaver and The Bear, a tale about a young Beaver woman who uses wisdom to outwit a hungry bear. The lower figures depict The Hunter’s Wife Who Became A Beaver, which is about a woman who goes swimming after a fight with her husband and, not wanting to return to him, slowly dams the river to form a lake while transforming into a beaver.
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The figures on the 40-foot Salmon Legends Totem also represent two legends. The eagle at the top, which is Boxley’s family crest and personal signature, and the man beneath it are from The Eagle and Chief, a story about a young chief who frees a trapped eagle and is rewarded with food for his village—first salmon, then halibut and seals, and eventually a whale. The remaining figures on the totem come from The Salmon Boy, a tale of a salmon shoal that lives simultaneously as people and as fish, reflecting their interconnection with humans.Raised in Metlakatla, AK, and based in Lynnwood, WA, Boxley has dedicated more than 40 years of his life to the revitalization and rebirth of Ts'msyan arts and culture. His work includes wood carvings, prints, and Ts'msyan dance. He is known as one of the world’s most prolific contemporary makers of totem poles.
About the Location
Beaver Lake Park
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