SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2000

Totem Pole and House Post Conservation


The totem poles and house posts located in Sitka National Historical Park, Sitka Alaska, are located in an environment which has an annual rainfall of 95 inches. Fungal decay flourishes, with the most decay occurring around the bases where the totems enter the ground, the tops of poles, and the horizontally carved surfaces. Over the years numerous chemicals were applied to try to lengthen their lifespan. In 1991 a Totem Preservation Conference was held in Sitka and a condition survey was performed. As a result of the survey, it was decided to treat the totem poles with sodium borates. This paper focuses on the treatments used over the years, the decision to use borate preservatives, and the results of that decision.

Author Information

Sheetz, RE
National Park Service, Harpers Ferry Center, Harpers Ferry, WV
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Developed by Committee: E06
Pages: 255–268
DOI: 10.1520/STP13387S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5415-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2497-4