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NATIVES Program Launches First-Ever Totem Pole Project

Brian Bull

For the first time in its 45-year history, the 4-J School District’s NATIVES program has started work on a totem pole.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

About a dozen Native American children with chisels, mallets, and safety goggles chip away bark from a 25-foot-long cedar log.  

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
NATIVES students use mallets and chisels to remove bark from a recently felled cedar log.

“We are hoping to get it finished in time for Spring Break 2018," Vic Hansen, master carver,  says. 

"You don’t usually see as many powerful totems on a single log as we’re going to put on this one.  But it’s because we have so many tribes that are represented.”  

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
NATIVES director Brenda Brainard.

While Hansen himself is not with a tribe, NATIVES director Brenda Brainard – of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians – says his reverence and talent qualify him for the project.  

“Vic has been carving for over 20 years. He’s carved poles all over," Brainard tells KLCC. 

"And he started out carving with a native carver.  He has such great skills and he’s so good with the kids.” 

Eventually the finished pole will be installed at Sheldon High School.  

Disclosure: Reporter Brian Bull has children active in the NATIVES program.

Copyright 2017, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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