Master carvers, Tlingit elders, dancers, and members of the community gathered at the historic structure, to honor the house and the work that has gone into preserving it. Master Carver Steve Brown attended the ceremony says its honor to be back in Wrangell working on the tribal house. Brown has been carving for nearly 45-years, and he says it’s important to remember the hard work of the past carvers when starting a project like this.
“We really respect what they did and we really want this to go forward with the same kind of spirit that they had. So it’s going to be a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work,” he says.
Along with Brown, Master Carver Wayne Price returned to Wrangell from Haines for the project. Price worked on the Chief Shake’s house posts in the 1980s and he says he’s thrilled to be returning after all these years but says there is a great deal of work ahead.
“All the timber needs to be adzed and there is roughly 7,000 sq ft of adzing that needs to be done. We are going be collecting a team of adzers and train a couple of locals who are going to adz all the timber. Then we will disassemble the old clan house, take out all the bad wood and replace it with good wood and put it back up,” he says.
Dancers and tlingit elders followed on stage after the carvers and Tlingit Elder Marge Byrd gave encouraging words blessing the project, while dancers proceeded with song to honor the occasion. Wrangell Cooperative Association President John Martin says the WCA has been working to get to this point for nearly 7-years and says he’s proud of the progress and commitment of the native community on the project.
“Now that this ceremony has set us off in the right direction, I’m once again amazed by the power behind this whole activity and what it’s going to mean to so many people. And it’s just exciting because you can feel the energy build and it’s good to see the carvers here, and all the community involved in this project it’s wonderful,” he says.
The master carvers and WCA will be holding adzing classes this week at the carving shed to train locals and develop apprenticeships for the restoration project.
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