While other cultures around the world, from West Africa and Madagascar to New Zealand and Polynesia, have produced vertical columns with carved surfaces, nowhere did they achieve the beauty, the grandeur, or the sheer size of those carved in this region. These narratives might recount recent historical events involving members of a particular family or timeless legends involving mythological characters. The Raven pole belonging to a Tlingit tribe in Wrangell, Alaska, for example, depicts a story found among various tribes that explains the origins of the sun and moon. In addition to its aetiological components, the story includes many elements similar to those in narratives from various Western traditions — the theft of fire, the trickster who benefits mankind, and even the virgin birth — and more mundane themes like the danger of spoiling grandchildren.
Totem poles and houses at 'Ksannear Hazelton, British Columbia. Totem poles serve as important illustrations of family lineage and the cultural heritage of the Native peoples in the islands and coastal areas of North America's Pacific Northwest, especially British Columbia, Canada, and coastal areas of Washington and southeastern Alaska in the United States.
Because of the region's climate and the nature of the materials used to make the poles, few examples carved before remain. Totem poles are the largest, but not the only, objects that coastal Pacific Northwest natives use to depict spiritual reverence, family legends, sacred beings and culturally important animals, people, or historical events.
The freestanding poles seen by the region's first European explorers were likely preceded by a long history of decorative carving. Stylistic features of these poles were borrowed from earlier, smaller prototypes, or from the interior support posts of house beams.
Prior to the 19th century, the lack of efficient carving tools, along with sufficient wealth and leisure time to devote to the craft, delayed the development of elaborately carved, freestanding poles.
The process was slow and laborious; axes were unknown. By the late eighteenth century, the use of metal cutting tools enabled more complex carvings and increased production of totem poles.
He argues that the Haida people of the islands of Haida Gwaii originated carving of the poles, and that the practice spread outward to the Tsimshian and Tlingitand then down the coast to the indigenous people of British Columbia and northern Washington.
Accounts from the s describe and illustrate carved poles and timber homes along the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Between andthe maritime fur trademining, and fisheries gave rise to an accumulation of wealth among the coastal peoples. This included the carving of totem poles.
Missionaries urged converts to cease production and destroy existing poles. Nearly all totem pole making had ceased by Pole carvings may include animals, fish, plants, insects, and humans, or they may represent supernatural beings such as the Thunderbird.
Consistent use of a specific character over time, with some slight variations in carving style, helped develop similarities among these shared symbols that allowed people to recognize one from another.
For example, the raven is symbolized by a long, straight beak, while the eagle's beak is curved, and a beaver is depicted with two large front teeth, a piece of wood held in his front paws, and a paddle-shaped tail. Some poles celebrate cultural beliefs that may recount familiar legends, clan lineages, or notable events, while others are mostly artistic.
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.
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. Types[ edit ] There are six basic types of totem poles: Its carvings tell the story of the family, clan or village who own them.Here's a complete listing of all the free online activities available on the Legacy Project website.
They are categorized by type. Activities are also grouped and can be accessed under our three banner programs – LifeDreams, Across Generations, and Our World. About This Quiz & Worksheet. The quiz will ask you questions about the characteristics and purpose of a totem pole.
This is used as a quick assessment of your knowledge on this topic and can help. Take a look at these Totem Pole Craft Projects For Kids, which can be made from recycled material such as plastic bottles, tin cans or egg cartons.
It is a great idea for a collaborative project and a history lesson at the same time. Second Grade totem poles Find this Pin and more on 2nd by florence cometz. I love this idea of creating a totem pole art project. I would the students to see actual examples of totem poles to keep them in the direction of accuracy to the culture.
PHOTO RELEASE for the first photos of the Eagle Totem Pole (July ) PRESS RELEASE – Updated 04/21/17 On May 13, , Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, a non-profit entity of Goldbelt Incorporated, and governed by GHF Board, will raise a Raven pole.
PATROL ACTIVITY IDEAS BSA TROOP Patrol Leader: So, you have just been elected Patrol Leader and you need some ideas for patrol activities during Troop.