Why a local developer took one of the Riverfront Park totem poles

click to enlarge Why a local developer ended up with one of the Riverfront Park totem poles. - CITY OF SPOKANE PHOTO
City of Spokane photo
Why a local developer ended up with one of the Riverfront Park totem poles.

Remember the tall totem pole in Riverfront Park? The one carved way back in 1976, by artists from the Colville and Algonquin tribes?

In March, a city press release claimed that the pole, commissioned by the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, would be removed from Riverfront Park, and returned to the council's offices, where it would be installed "for all to see and enjoy."

Yet, as the Spokesman-Review first reported, it went to the parking garage of developer Kent Hull instead.

A spokesman for the Spokane Parks Department, Josh Morrisey, says that the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council sent an email alerting the department that, since they didn't have a trailer available for the pole, Hull would come by in order to pick it up.

Hull was on the council when the carving was commissioned. He says he's had multiple conversations with the leadership of the Wildlife Council, and agreed to take the pole instead.

"The Wildlife Council really didn't want it," Hull says. "They didn't want to see it [destroyed] either. The last couple of years they were trying to figure out what to do with it."

But resurrecting the pole to its standing position could be a challenge. The pole was cut off at the stump. He can't plug it into a base without losing a significant portion of the carving.

"The Parks Department had the contractor saw the dang thing off," Hull says.

He says he's trying to figure out a way to build a steel structure to support the pole at his Iron Bridge property near the Centennial Trail. His intent is to create a small interpretive center, focusing on the war between Col. George Wright and local tribes, that includes the totem pole, a fountain and a stainless steel teepee. While the Spokane Tribe did not historically carve totem poles, Hull says that the coastal tribes the Spokane traded with did.

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...