The audience for this film is vast: high school students, counselors and their patients, community workers, Native American organizations and the general public. A powerful video, not soon to be forgotten. Highly recommended.
— Video Librarian. Editor’s choice. Four Stars.

The Story

One man loses his son to a cocaine overdose. Grieving, Stan Marsden, a Tsimpsean wood carver decides to create a totem pole in his son's memory and invites the town of Craig, Alaska to help. Before he is done, the pole becomes a communal project, bringing people of diverse backgrounds and ages together.

This powerful film explores questions of death and dying, family relationships and parenting, domestic violence, and the impact of the war on veterans and their families. It also acknowledges the intergenerational grief growing out of the rapid changes in lifestyle, and the interruptions to the passing on of tradition and knowledge within Alaska Native and American Indian communities like Craig.

But, most importantly, the film demonstrates the enormous power of mutual support, culture, and ceremony in enabling a community to face tragedy, provide support to its members, and find a path to healing.

Featured at

Sundance Film Festival
Best of Show, Red Earth Film Festival
Best Documentary Short, American Indian Film Festival
Bronze Apple, National Educational Media Network
National Council on Family Relations Media Awards
Independent Lens, PBS Broadcast
Hospice Foundation of America’s “Living with Grief Teleconference

Recommended as a resource for

Psychology and Social Work
Counseling and Mental Health Programs
Addiction and Rehabilitation Studies
Sociology/ Anthropology
Suicide and Violence Prevention
Veterans’ Programs/Women’s Shelters
Art Therapy and Education
Cultural Awareness & Teacher Training
Restorative Justice, Diversity/Equity Centers

Funding and Sponsors: Carved from the Heart was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alaska Humanities Forum, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional funding from the Institute of the Noetic Sciences, the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, the Klukwan Heritage Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, the City of Craig, Seven Circles Coalition, and many individuals and Southeast Alaskan community organizations. It was sponsored by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. For assistance hosting screenings and events, download our User and Discussion guide (PDF)