“Sitka, Alaska” marks the beginning of Emily Carr’s artistic career, as well as her commitment to Northwest Coast Aboriginal culture and iconography. It was painted during a trip with her sister Alice in August 1907 from Vancouver to Skagway, Alaska, which included a stay in Sitka on the return journey. Indian River Park in Sitka (today Sitka National Historical Park) was a popular tourist destination. The year before Carr’s arrival, Alaska’s governor, John G. Brady, arranged for the installation of totem poles along park paths. The poles had been solicited from Native leaders and “heavily restored and repainted” for the purpose. Carr’s “Sitka, Alaska” foregrounds “a unique Kaigani Haida housefront corner pole from Old Kasaan donated by Haida owner John Baronovich.” This view has become renowned through a very similar, much exhibited and reproduced watercolour, “Totem Walk at Sitka” (around 1907, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria). Carr often returned to a subject in several works; she also returned to Indian River Park several times to paint during her Sitka stay. Though Carr had painted First Nations settlements in Victoria and North Vancouver, this was the first time she depicted Northwest Coast poles. She felt that she needed to capture what she perceived to be disappearing cultures; her focus, however, tended to be on their artistic and cultural production, rather than the people themselves. Previous plein air painting at the art school in St. Ives, Cornwall, had lightened her palette and loosened her brush.