NATIVES Program Launches First-Ever Totem Pole Project

Dec 3, 2017

For the first time in its 45-year history, the 4-J School District’s NATIVES program has started work on a totem pole.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

Master Carver for the 4-J NATIVES' totem pole project, Vic Hansen (right) instructs American Indian students on carving safety.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

About a dozen Native American children with chisels, mallets, and safety goggles chip away bark from a 25-foot-long cedar log.  

NATIVES students use mallets and chisels to remove bark from a recently felled cedar log.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

“We are hoping to get it finished in time for Spring Break 2018," Vic Hansen, master carver,  says. 

"You don’t usually see as many powerful totems on a single log as we’re going to put on this one.  But it’s because we have so many tribes that are represented.”  

NATIVES director Brenda Brainard.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

While Hansen himself is not with a tribe, NATIVES director Brenda Brainard – of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians – says his reverence and talent qualify him for the project.  

“Vic has been carving for over 20 years. He’s carved poles all over," Brainard tells KLCC. 

"And he started out carving with a native carver.  He has such great skills and he’s so good with the kids.” 

Eventually the finished pole will be installed at Sheldon High School.  

Disclosure: Reporter Brian Bull has children active in the NATIVES program.

Copyright 2017, KLCC.