Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kwa-Ma-Rolas


Kwa-Ma-Rolas, 1956
Tony Hunt
East of Lake Shore Drive at Addison Street

Since 1929, a 40-foot Kwanusila totem pole has stood in this location, although not the same one. Many Chicagoans first learned of the Kwakiutl Indians of western British Columbia, Canada during the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. They, along with the Haida tribe are renowned for their woodcarving skills. George Hunt, a Tlinglit Indian, was in charge of collecting hundreds of objects for the Exposition for the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest exhibit. Then, in 1929, cheese baron James L. Kraft, the founder of Kraft Foods, who often traveled to the Pacific Northwest, donated a totem pole to the city. Carved from a single cedar log, it stood 40 feet high.  Harsh Chicago weather and repaintings damaged the original. 
In 1972, vandals set it on fire and badly damaged the bottom figure. Ten years later, when the Field Museum opened its permanent exhibit dedicated to Maritime Peoples of the Artic and Northwest Coast, experts suspected the 1929 totem pole was of greater historic and cultural significance than previously realized. The totem was removed and sent to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia to be conserved. Kraft, Inc. then commissioned a new pole to go its place. This pole was carved by Tony Hunt, the chief of the Kwakiutl tribe and descendent of George Hunt. This replica of the original, carved from a single Western red cedar, was unveiled on May 21, 1986. Conservation by the Chicago Park district in 1996 was done to fill in some cracks and repaint.







  


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