Burke Museum Home

New house posts


A new grizzly bear house post, carved by Tlingit Master Carver, Nathan Jackson, was installed in the galleries of the Burke Museum on Saturday, August 27th, 2005. Members of the Teikweidi clan, the Cape Fox Dancers, and officials of the Sealaska Corporation were there to help dedicate the post. Stephen Jackson's post was completed and installed on December 7th, 2005. The new posts were commissioned by the Burke Museum with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sealaska Heritage Institute, the Ferguson Foundation, and from several private donations. They are replacing two traditional posts which were returned in 2001 to the Cape Fox Corporation, the descendants of those who carved them in the late 19th century at the old Cape Fox village of Gaash.
The new poles are contemporary expressions of Northwest Coast Native American art. Neither pole is a replica; they are both original designs, but inspired by the Grizzly Bear story that is told in the old posts. The two new posts are modern reflections based on the Teikweidi Tlingit story of Kaats, a hunter who married a grizzly bear. Nathan Jackson's cedar pole closely follows the original design of the old house post, depicting Kaats in the arms of his grizzly bear wife. Stephen Jackson, portrays a moment at the tragic end of the story in his post. On the cutting edge of contemporary art, Stephen Jackson's pole employs mixed media including epoxy resin in a casting technique developed to accommodate the intricate design. Both poles look toward the future of contemporary Native American art, while referencing the past for their inspiration.