April 2, 2019
Dear Sitka Center Community,
Since 1999, a large, carved, wooden pole using imagery from Pacific Northwest Native Americans stood on our campus.The pole was created as a multi-year woodcarving class project initiated in 1997.Over the past twenty-two years, societal perspectives on how to preserve and honor Native traditions and art forms have changed.
The Sitka Center is now better informed about the issue of cultural appropriation and better able to reflect on our present-day responsibility. We acknowledge that cultural appropriation is especially harmful when the source culture has been exploited or oppressed by colonizing cultures, as Native Americans have been, and when the cultural elements appropriated are sacred, as authentic Pacific Northwest Native totem poles are.
After careful consideration, the SitkaCenter’s Executive Director and staff chose to de-install the pole from our public courtyard and relocate it to safe storage. The Sitka Center’s Board ofDirectors fully supports this decision. Our action is informed by the history of the object, feedback from both Native and non-Native perspectives over recent years and evolving regional, national and international perspectives on cultural appropriation.
We acknowledge the artists’ skilled craftsmanship in creating the pole twenty years ago and we recognize the educational intent of Sitka’s past board members, administrators and funders.
We acknowledge and respect Native Americans as part of our regional and organizational community. We sincerely regret and take responsibility for any unintended disrespect we have shown by displaying the pole on our campus.
The Sitka Center looks forward to creating opportunities for reflection and dialogue as we strive to foster a creative space where everyone feels welcome.
Please direct questions and comments to Executive Director Alison Dennis in person, by mail at 56605 Sitka Drive, OtisOR 97368, by phone at 541-994-3050 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org