The Barnov Pole commemorates the peace treaty brokered by Alexander Barnov (featured at the totem’s pole top) in 1805. This pole was commissioned by the United States Forest Service at the local Sitka’s Tlingit leader’s request. The Barnove Pole was designed in early 1940 by George Benson; however, this pole was carved by Civilian Conservation Corps corkers in Wrangell. When the Barnov Poler returned to the city of Sitka, it was met with controversy because it appeared that Barnov was naked and that this totem pole was intended to be a shame pole, which was not the case.

In 2010-2011, the Barnov Pole went under restoration by Tommy Joseph, a local totem expert, using the original George Benson design drawing, a local Tlingit. The Barnov Pole has a somewhat controversial past surrounding the pole’s construction in Wrangell rather than Sitka as originally commissioned original design, which many locals viewed as unrepresentative and disrespectful of the region’s history.

A Simon Fraser University Digital Collections’ record, summarizes the history of the Barnov totem pole: “The original intent for the Totem Pole at Sitka Pioneer Home was to commemorate the 1805 Russians and Tlingit peace treaty that Alexander Andreyevich Barnow helped broker after the battle. The Barnov Polwas was commissioned by the U.S.F.S. 135 years after a pivotal war. Then, the pole was made at the Sitka Kiksadi local Tlingit leader’s request as a Civilian Conservation Corps project. The Barnov pole was carved in Wrangell, much to the Sitka tribes’ disappointment since these tribes have had a long history of conflict with Wrangell.


120 Katlian Street Sitka, AK 99835