On August 10th 1907, Emily and her sister Alice sailed from Vancouver to Alaska, eventually arriving at Sitka, which had been a Russian trading post for many years before becoming a US naval base. The local Tlingit Nation were renowned for their carving tradition, particularly their totem poles. Without understanding the pole's spiritual function for the Tlingit people, Europeans displayed them as decorative objects. This seemingly benign action was indicative of the deep cultural divide between the two, which would eventually cause conflict.
On August 10th 1907, Emily and her sister Alice sailed from Vancouver to Alaska, eventually arriving at Sitka, which had been a Russian trading post for many years before becoming a US naval base. The local Tlingit Nation were renowned for their carving tradition, particularly their totem poles. Without understanding the pole's spiritual function for the Tlingit people, Europeans displayed them as decorative objects. This seemingly benign action was indicative of the deep cultural divide between the two, which would eventually cause conflict.

© 2007, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.

"…Totem-Pole Walk winding through the trees beside a stream named Indian River, named for the pleasing of tourists but really the farthest possible distance from the village of Indian shanties - a walk ornamented at advantageous spots with out-of-setting totem poles, transplanted from their rightful place in front of an Indian chief's house in his home village, poles now loaded with commercial paint to make curiosity for see-it-all tourists …"1
"…Totem-Pole Walk winding through the trees beside a stream named Indian River, named for the pleasing of tourists but really the farthest possible distance from the village of Indian shanties - a walk ornamented at advantageous spots with out-of-setting totem poles, transplanted from their rightful place in front of an Indian chief's house in his home village, poles now loaded with commercial paint to make curiosity for see-it-all tourists …"1
1Emily Carr, The Heart of a Peacock, ed. Ira Dilworth (Toronto: Irwin Publishing, 1986), 80.
© 1986, Irwin Publishing. All rights reserved.

Totem walk at Sitka National Historic Park where trees and brightly painted totem poles line the sides of a path.

This painting depicts the totem walk through Sitka National Historic Park in Alaska. The poles were carved by members of the Tlingit First Nation.

Emily Carr
The Thomas Gardiner Keir Bequest
c. 1907
Alaska, Sitka, UNITED STATES
AGGV 1994.055.004
© 2007, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


"The Indian people and their art touched me deeply … By the time I reached home my mind was made up. I was going to picture totem poles in their own village settings as complete a collection of them as I could." 1
"The Indian people and their art touched me deeply … By the time I reached home my mind was made up. I was going to picture totem poles in their own village settings as complete a collection of them as I could." 1

1Emily Carr, Growing Pains – An Autobiography, (Toronto: Irwin Publishing, 1946), 211.


© 1946, Irwin Publishing. All rights reserved.

Learning Objectives

Curriculum Link (BC) – Social Studies 10/11; Geography 12; BC First Nations Studies 12; and English Language Arts 8/9/10; Social Studies 8/9/10; Visual Arts 9/10 (as outlined in a 2006 document from the BC Ministry of Education titled ‘Shared Learnings – Integrating Aboriginal Content K-12’); Information Technology 9/10

Learning Objectives:
· Students will describe how Canada’s growing autonomy influenced a national identity separate from Britain and distinct from the U.S. by referencing certain events - such as the Alaskan Dispute.
· After reading of Carr’s travels from Vancouver to Stika students will make connections among resource locations, economic activity, and settlement patterns in various regions of Canada etc., including BC (e.g., gold rush, logging, salmon fishery).
· Students will evaluate the impact of interactions between Aboriginal peoples and the European explorers and settlers in Canada from 1815-1914.
· Students will consider why Aboriginal peoples are concerned about Cultural appropriation.
· Students will understand and observe that Aboriginal peoples and individuals have been documented and portrayed in many ways in the media and in literature and visual art.
· Students will appreciate that Aboriginal social, cultural, and political issues are significant topics for creative writing, research and reporting.
· Students will recognize that Aboriginal peoples of BC have diverse values, beliefs, customs, traditions and lifestyles.
· Students will learn that Aboriginal cultures create art for ceremonial and functional purposes.
· After viewing the image ‘Totem Walk at Sitka’ students will explain how physical and human systems interact within an ecosystem.
· This learning object will allow students to demonstrate their ability to use the Internet to access, capture, and store information.
· Students will use information technology tools to gather and organize information and produce documents.
· By interacting with this object students will demonstrate an awareness of the impact of electronic resources on education, careers, and recreation.


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