“Tommy Joseph, a Tlingit master carver, carved a totem pole meant to shame Trump and Dunleavy…‘We’re calling it a ridicule pole, a shame pole, for our governor of Alaska, Dunleavy, and the president of the United States, Trump’ says Tommy Joseph.” B. Hohenstatt, Juneau Empire
Description of Totem Pole: “Designed and created by Tlingit master carver Tommy Joseph and his wife Kristina Cranston, the pole features an image of Trump at the base and one of Dunleavy at the top. A baby’s pacifier is held in Trump’s right hand and a bone spur protrudes from his left foot. A separate wooden pacifier in the president’s mouth can be removed and replaced by viewers.
In the middle, two Twitter birds and an area above them made with black chalkboard paint provide viewers with a place to write Trump’s recent tweets or to write their own comments. On the reverse side is a red necktie that runs the entire length of the pole.” ICT
‘I’m compelled, motivated and feel the need to say what I have to say,’ Joseph said in an interview.
While the pole has contemporary subject matter in the sitting president and governor of Alaska, it’s made in the spirit of traditional shame or ridicule poles. Shame poles were totem poles meant to tell the story of a misdeed or unpaid debt.
Famously, a pole shaming William Seward, who negotiated the Alaska Purchase, was carved in the 1880s after Seward did not reciprocate gifts and honors received while visiting an Alaska Native village…Joseph compared ridicule poles to the practice of posting a bounced check near a cash register.
Traditionally, Joseph said once the wrong depicted by a totem pole was righted, the pole would be destroyed, and the story would not be told again.‘Will that ever happen?’ Joseph asked. ‘I don’t know.’
The pole was carved in a roughly 48-hour flurry of activity Joseph said, and he was assisted by his wife and apprentice, Kristina Cranston…He said while he carved the shame pole, he reflected on the Dunleavy and Trump’s policies that he finds objectionable.
Those include environmental deregulation and Trump’s history of racially charged remarks.
‘I’m brown myself, and our brown people all over the world are being treated worse and less than,’ Joseph said…Joseph’s recently carved shame pole includes interactive elements, such as a chalkboard-like section that allows for messages to be written. Joseph also carved a pacifier that can be placed in the mouth of a likeness of Trump…He said the back of the pole will feature a long, red tie —a garment often associated with the president —that will be decorated with things Trump has said.’It’s not the big tie, it’s the big lie,’ Joseph said.
Additionally, Joseph, who is a full-time artist, said he has been impacted directly by Dunleavy’s budget vetoes that cut more than $400 million from a Legislature-approved budget.
The vetoes include slashing more than $130 million in funding for University of Alaska and eliminating funding for the Alaska State Council on the Arts. ‘I am directly losing jobs to these cuts,’ Joseph said.”