Totem Poles - A Sign of Affluence
Totem poles a sign of affluence, a display of
wealth. They were expensive and time consuming
to construct requiring significant manpower in
their construction and erection, which is why
they are generally found near the houses of
Native American chiefs. A totem pole in front of
a Native Indian's home would show the ancestry
and the social rank of the family. They
validated the powerful rights and privileges
that the family held.
Locations of Totem Poles
locations of totem poles vary. Some stand in
front of the houses, or very near them; others
posts are set near the waterfront or beach,
beyond the village. For additional, interesting
info refer to
How to make a Totem Pole.
Symbols on Totem Poles
Totem Poles are created using
Pictography, or writing with pictures and
symbols. Totem poles have unique features
and colors depending upon the clan or tribe.
Their interpretation requires knowledge of the
customs, traditions and history of the clan or
family. Every color used on the Poles have
meanings as do the figures carved on the Totem
Poles. The Symbols for every animal or spirit
carved on the pole also have meaning and when
combined on the pole, in sequence, constitute a
story, legend or myth.
Thunderbird Totem Pole
Meaning of Totem Poles - Carvings and Symbols
The meaning of Totem Poles can be interpreted
from the carvings and symbols that tell a story.
Every animal depicted on a Pole had a special
meaning, characteristics and significance - refer to
color had a special meaning and significance
tribe and clan or family had a special animal totem
and their poles were associated with specific colors
position of figures on the pole were significant
Directional colors - Some colors symbolized the four
The Decay of Totem Poles
As totem poles become old they decay and
become weather-beaten and gray in color.
Groups of old poles are sometimes
compared to a forest of tree trunks left
after a fire has swept through a wooded
Pictures of House Totem Poles of Northwest
Creating Totem Poles - How long did it take?
The length of time taken to carve and paint
the poles clearly depended on the size of the
pole and the intricacy of the carving. Generally
totem poles could take between 3 and 9 months to
complete and required the skills of the
experienced carver and his helpers.