Totem Pole Meanings
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Then, there are spirit animals , also known as power animals, who come in and out of our lives, depending on the direction that we are headed. Spirit animals help us with the tasks that need to be completed along our journey while teaching us important life lessons. There are several techniques to figuring out your spirit animal is. Pay attention to a specific animal appearing in your dreams or seeing one frequently in the waking world, and think about your past connections with animals. If you see a particular animal coming up again and again, or you were especially close with your childhood pet, take note that this may be your spirit guide.
Even if you are non-Native, this doesn't mean you don't have a group of animals guiding you through life and pushing you in the right direction! It's important to not appropriate this culture , however. It may feel overwhelming to engage with the very notion that an animal is helping you find your balance in the world. But this same concept is the reason why many of us find comfort in knowing who is helping us steer the ship.
What is an example of a totem? For instance, maybe you always come across butterflies no matter where you are, or you might even have dreams of them. This is probably not a coincidence. Butterflies are symbolic of metamorphosis, or the ever-changing spirit of life. What does this mean for you? Well, you may be a person who is constantly evolving themselves into their higher self, always constant in their walk toward their goals, and you might even be looked at by others as a sign that change is inevitable. No matter who you are, totem animals are here to elevate you to become the master of your own destiny. And who wouldn't want some of our favorite animals cheering us on every day?
There are hundreds if not thousands of totem animals, but this list includes some of the most popular or intriguing ones, along with their symbolic meaning:. Carving totem poles is a tradition among many Indian tribes, especially those tribes that lived along the Pacific coast where forests grew. Many totem poles no longer exist because of decay and rot. Today these poles are still being carved and enjoyed by collectors.
The following lists catalog the specific articles, stories, legends and research materials of this website. Click Here to give an online gift. Toggle navigation. Totem Poles Find out how totem poles fit into Native American culture. Related Stories: Totem Poles Articles Home Page The following lists catalog the specific articles, stories, legends and research materials of this website. American Indian Article Categories. Some poles celebrate cultural beliefs that may recount familiar legends, clan lineages, or notable events, while others are mostly artistic. Animals and other characters carved on the pole are typically used as symbols to represent characters or events in a story; however, some may reference the moiety of the pole's owner,  or simply fill up empty space on the pole.
Smaller carvings may be positioned in vacant spaces, or they may be tucked inside the ears or hang out of the mouths of the pole's larger figures. Some of the figures on the poles constitute symbolic reminders of quarrels, murders, debts, and other unpleasant occurrences about which the Native Americans prefer to remain silent The most widely known tales, like those of the exploits of Raven and of Kats who married the bear woman, are familiar to almost every native of the area. Carvings which symbolize these tales are sufficiently conventionalized to be readily recognizable even by persons whose lineage did not recount them as their own legendary history.
Those from cultures that do not carve totem poles often assume that the linear representation of the figures places the most importance on the highest figure, an idea that became pervasive in the dominant culture after it entered into mainstream parlance by the s with the phrase "low man on the totem pole"  and as the title of a bestselling humor book by H. Allen Smith. However, Native sources either reject the linear component altogether, or reverse the hierarchy, with the most important representations on the bottom, bearing the weight of all the other figures, or at eye level with the viewer to heighten their significance.
There are six basic types of upright, pole carvings that are commonly referred to as "totem poles"; not all involve the carving of what may be considered "totem" figures: house frontal poles, interior house posts, mortuary poles, memorial poles, welcome poles, and the ridicule or shame pole. This type of pole, usually 20 to 40 ft 6 to 12 m tall  is the most decorative. Its carvings tell the story of the family, clan or village who own them. These poles are also known as heraldic, crest, or family poles.
Poles of this type are placed outside the clan house of the most important village leaders. Often, watchman figures are carved at the top of the pole to protect the pole owner's family and the village. Another type of house frontal pole is the entrance or doorway pole, which is attached to the center front of the home and includes an oval-shaped opening through the base that serves as the entrance to the clan house. These interior poles, typically 7 to 10 ft 2 to 3 m in height, are usually shorter than exterior poles.
Carvings on these poles, like those of the house frontal poles, are often used as a storytelling device and help tell the story of the owners' family history. The rarest type of pole carving is a mortuary structure that incorporates grave boxes with carved supporting poles. It may include a recessed back to hold the grave box. These are among the tallest and most prominent poles, reaching 50 to 70 ft 15 to 21 m in height. These poles may have a single figure carved at the top, which may depict the clan's crest, but carvings usually cover its entire length. Ashes or the body of the deceased person are placed in the upper portion of the pole. This type of pole, which usually stands in front of a clan house, is erected about a year after a person has died.
The clan chief's memorial pole may be raised at the center of the village. Traditionally, the memorial pole has one carved figure at the top, but an additional figure may also be added at the bottom of the pole. Memorial poles may also commemorate an event. For example, several memorial totem poles were erected by the Tlingits in honor of Abraham Lincoln, one of which was relocated to Saxman , Alaska, in After American soldiers at the fort and aboard the Lincoln provided protection to the Tongass group against its rival, the Kagwantans, the Tongass group commissioned the Lincoln pole to commemorate the event. Carved by the Kwakwaka'wakw Kwakiutl , Salish and Nuu-chah-nulth Nootka people, most of the poles include large carvings of human figures, some as tall as 40 ft 12 m.
Poles used for public ridicule are usually called shame poles, and were created to embarrass individuals or groups for their unpaid debts or when they did something wrong. Shame pole carvings represent the person being shamed. It was created to shame former U. Secretary of State William H. Seward for not reciprocating the courtesy or generosity of his Tlingit hosts following a potlatch given in his honor.
The intent of this pole is indicated by the figure's red-painted nose and ears to symbolize Seward's stinginess. This pole was erected by Chief Shakes to shame the Kiks. When the Kiks. It is not known if the debt was ever repaid. The pole's unique crossbar shape has become popularly associated with the town of Wrangell, and continues to be used as part of the Wrangell Sentinel newspaper's masthead. In , the U. Forest Service commissioned a pole to commemorate Alexander Baranof , the Russian governor and Russian American Company manager, as a civilian works project. The pole's original intent was to commemorate a peace treaty between the Russians and Tlingits that the governor helped broker in George Benson, a Sitka carver and craftsman, created the original design.
The completed version originally stood in Totem Square in downtown Sitka, Alaska. Because Sitka and Wrangell native groups were rivals, it has been argued that the Wrangell carvers may have altered Benson's original design. The Sitka Sentinel reported that while standing, it was "said to be the most photographed totem [pole] in Alaska". Some poles from the Pacific Northwest have been moved to other locations for display out of their original context. In Alaska's district governor, John Green Brady , collected fifteen Tlingit and Haida totem poles for public displays from villages in southeastern Alaska.
The other two poles were sold; one pole from the Alaska pavilion went the Milwaukee Public Museum and the pole from the Esquimau Village was sold and then given to industrialist David M. Parry , who installed it on his estate in what became known as the Golden Hill neighborhood of Indianapolis , Indiana. The Indian New Deal of the s strongly promoted native arts and crafts, and in the totem pole they discovered an art that was widely appreciated by white society.
In Alaska the Indian Division of the Civilian Conservation Corps restored old totem poles, copied those beyond repair, and carved new ones. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board, a federal government agency, facilitated their sale to the general public. The project was lucrative, but anthropologists complained that it stripped the natives of their traditional culture and stripped away the meaning of the totem poles. Another example occurred in , when the U. Forest Service began a totem pole restoration program in Alaska.
In Seattle, Washington, a Tlingit funerary totem pole was raised in Pioneer Square in , after being taken from an Alaskan village. In the late s, the remaining carved poles were sent to various museums for preservation, with the then park board commissioning and loaning replacement carvings. After the tree to be used for the totem pole is selected, it is cut down and moved to the carving site, where the bark and outer layer of wood sapwood is removed. Next, the side of the tree to be carved is chosen and the back half of the tree is removed. The center of the log is hollowed out to make it lighter and to keep it from cracking. In the early days, the basic design for figures may have been painted on the wood to guide the carvers, but today's carvers use paper patterns as outlines for their designs.You feeling ok? I totem pole meanings no idea that all totem pole meanings the different symbols on the totem pole meant something different like that the eagle means peace and friendship. Totem pole meanings 13,