“Fog Woman”, © Ray Troll, 1987
Because of Fog Woman’s power and ingenuity salmon return to the creeks every year assuring life and prosperity to the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Alaska. The Totem Heritage Center collection in Ketchikan includes two Fog Woman poles.
After moving to Alaska I began to have a deeper appreciation for the indigenous cultures of the Northwest Coast. I was surrounded by magnificent Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian carvings and the stories and meanings of the art became a source of endless fascination for me.
One of our local Tlingit tribes, the Tongass, has a wonderful story about a marriage between Fog Woman and Raven. Raven had only bony sculpins to eat before he met this mythical woman who lived at the head of Anan creek just north of Ketchikan. She gave him salmon which she produced in a swirl of fog from the woven hat she wore on her head. They married but Raven soon started to treat her badly, bragging to his friends about his tasty new fish and taking all the credit for their creation. When he struck her one day she finally had enough of him and left, taking all of the salmon with her. One version of the story I’ve heard has her allowing the salmon to come back once a year because she had pity on Raven as he cried out for forgiveness when she left. This drawing shows Fog Woman as she gathers the salmon around her to leave.