longhouseconstruction040 longhouseconstruction086A team of Arrowmen led by the Lodge Chief Reuben S. and Lodge Adviser Mike G. put the finishing touches on the restoration of the Hillaire Entrance totem pole this past weekend. With the new longhouse going up it was time to place new hats and copper plates on the watchmen on top before the pole is raised.

The old watchmen hates were too rotten to salvage so new ones were carved by the restoration team lead by Haida master carver Ralph Bennett. These two hats are crowned by two copper plates that will help protect them from the weather.

While the Longhouse Committee sought out site plans and building designs they felt it was prudent to work on restoration of the historically unique Hillaire Entrance Pole. It would be almost impossible to try to replace a monument of this type. Replacement cost for this gigantic piece of art was projected to be up towards a half of a million dollars. It was crucial that repairs and restoration occur so that the Hillaire pole could grace the new building for many years to come.

Restoration work on the Hillaire pole began on December 10, 2005.

The Hillaire Entrance pole was designed by UW professor and curator of the Burke Museum, Bill Holm, a nationally known authority on Northwest Coast First Peoples. He made the design at the request of the Sahaptin Chapter who had won the privilege in a Potlatch attendance contest. The design is symbolic of the original five chapters of the Lodge. The top figures are Watchmen of the Sahaptin Chapter, the second figure down is a wolf of the Klahanie Chapter, the Eagle symbolizes the KwinKwinKuleg Chapter, the fourth is the Sun of the Sunyakwa Chapter and the Beaver is of the Hyas Eena Chapter. The lodge commissioned Joe Hillaire a master carver and activist of the Lummi Tribe to carve the pole in the Coast Salish style. The proud pole was erected and dedicated along with the longhouse in 1962.longhouseconstruction058 longhouseconstruction045