What are Totem Poles?

  • Totem poles celebrated legends, events, or simply the wealth & crest of the family for whom it was created.  The poles were neither worshipped nor had any religious significance. They are records of a past culture that had no written language.

Who made them?

  • The Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest Coast created carved images of spirits, mythological animals, and mythological people.  These carved images were called totems.

How were Totem poles made?

  • These totems were also made into poles, which used various different carved totems to tell a myth or to show the history of a particular clan.  The wood used to make these poles was very important.  The totem poles needed to be made from either the sacred red or yellow cedar.

Totem Poles Meaning

  • What did they mean?
  • Bat= Transition
  • Dog= Companionship
  • Elephant= Strength
  • Horse= Stability
  • Mouse= Innocence
  • Lion= Strength
  • Owl= Wisdom
  • Rabbit= Faith
  • Serpent= Health
  • Wolf= Protection
  • Each clan had a totem that was used as a crest, which was like a symbolic family tree.  This totem crest decorated the homes of the family members.  Some of the major clans had raven, eagle, bear, and wolf totem crests, but there were also many other clans with lots of different animals for crests.

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1 Comment on "North American Indians: Totem Poles"

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B K Riley
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My class text in FAMILY LIFE STUDY suggests That each student construct (draw) a 5 or 6
character totem pole.
I found this site while searching for one to use with my students…This will be most helpful to them in completing their projects..

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