Native American Totem Poles: Pictures and information about Northwest Indian totem pole art American Indian Art --> Northwest Indian Art --> Indian Totem Poles Native American Languages Native American Tribes Native American Heritage This page is about Native American totem pole carving. If you're looking for information about totem animals and their meanings instead, please click here: Native American Animal Totems.
Totem poles are an ancient tradition of the Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest Coast--Washington state in the USA, British Columbia in Canada--and some of the Athabaskan tribes of southern Alaska.Sponsored Links Contrary to popular belief, the Southwest Indians, Plains Indians, and Inuit never built totem poles (there are no trees that size in the Sonoran desert or the Arctic tundra!) Now and then, though, you will hear an anthropologist claim that Native American tribes did not make totem poles at all before Europeans came to the New World.
Since Native American totems are made out of wood, which decays over time, there is no way to prove to anthropologists that this assertion is false, but the oral histories of Northwest Indians and their neighbors are unanimous about the totem pole existing in those cultures long before European arrival, and the form and design of Northwest totem poles are so stylized and distinctive it would be hard to believe they sprang up recently.
Totem poles have definitely grown in size since the acquisition of European woodcarving tools, though. The totem poles in Haida, Tlingit, Kwakiutl, and other Northwest Coast folklore were carried by men or stood inside a room. Neither was possible for the majestic totem poles created during the 1800's, which were made of single pieces of cedar wood up to forty feet high.Today, both short and tall totem poles are still enthusiastically made by Northwestern and Alaskan Indian artists, and it is possible to purchase one-- for a price.
This is probably the single most expensive native art form there is, no surprise given the cost of a full-grown cedar tree and the amount of hand-carving and painting required to make a totem pole. I hate to put things in purely financial terms, but frankly, if you find a large totem pole being sold for less than $500 a foot, it is probably not hand-carved, not made by a native artist, and/or not carved from a single tree trunk.
Even imitation totems are pricy, and spending $2000 on a cheaply made fake is in many ways less affordable than spending $8000 on a genuine artwork. If you're looking for something less expensive, why not visit our Native American sculptures page instead, where there are some nice collections of beautiful Indian woodcarving (including Northwest Coast staffs, bentwood boxes, and wall plaques with similar designs to those on totem poles).
On the other hand, if you are looking to buy a totem pole that was actually made by Native Americans, here is our list of Northwestern and Alaskan Indian artists whose totems are available online. If you have a website of Indian totem carvings to add to this list, let us know. We gladly advertise any individual native artist or native-owned art store here free of charge, provided that all totems were made by tribally recognized American Indian/First Nations artists.
Thank you for your interest in Native American art! Native Totem Pole Carvers On our main site we do our best to avoid slowing down our page loading with graphics, but this is an art page about totem poles and crest carvings, so we'd really be remiss in not showing a few representative totem pole pictures. All photos are the property of their respective artists; please visit their sites to see their work in more depth.
Ron Sebastian Totem PolesThis Northwest Coast Indian artist makes full-size native totem poles by commission for museums and organizations. He will also carve a short totem pole (less than six feet tall), which is more affordable for an individual collector. Hills Native Art TotemsThis Canadian art store sells First Nations totem poles of many styles, and can also arrange commisions of custom-made tall poles.
Alaskan Totem PolesAnother good store that sells small totem poles (2 to 10 feet high) carved by Tlingit artists. Good for indoor display. American Indian Totem Pole Books Totem Poles Totem Poles of the Pacific Northwest Coast Looking at Totem Poles Totem Pole A good introduction to Native totems and the customs, symbols, and mythology associated with them. Illustrated encyclopedia of different totem pole crests and figures, techniques, and patterns.
A guidebook to 110 historic totem poles that can be seen raised throughout British Columbia and Alaska, with photos, background and travel information. A nice children's book about a Tsimshian totem pole carver's son, with real totem pole photographs. Sponsored Links Totem Pole Links Here are some other good internet resources for learning about or purchasing Native American totem poles:The Indian Arts and Crafts Act: US law against passing off fake American Indian craft as genuine.
What constitutes Indian art fraud, and how to report it if you find it.Totem Poles Exploration: Facts about the artistry and meaning of Native Indian totem poles. Many pictures.Northwest Coast Totem Poles: Totem pole history, images and bibliography.Totem Pole Designs: Description and photo examples of the different types of American Indian totems, including lineage poles,memorial poles, mortuary poles, and shame poles.
Royal British Columbia Museum Totem Poles: Photographs of ancient totem poles from the museum's collection.Native American Totem Symbols: Northwest Coast Native organization explains the symbolism of animals in totem art.Haisla Totem Repatriation: Interesting story of a Northwest Indian totem pole returned to the Haisla people by a Swedish museum who held it for 70 years.Making a Haida Totem Pole: Online documentary video of the famous Haida artist Bill Reid carving a totem pole.
Indigenous Arts and Crafts: Orrin contributed to this larger directory of Indian crafts, many of which are authentic.American Indian Cultures: View our pages for individual Indian tribes, most of which have artistic information. About us: This website belongs to Native Languages of the Americas, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting endangered Native American languages. We are not artists ourselves, so if you are interested in buying totem poles featured on this page, please contact the artists directly.
Though we have featured only Native North American totem poles identified with the name and tribal affiliation of each artist, we haven't called the tribal offices to check up on any of them, and we only know a few of them personally. We also don't guarantee any of their products. This is not an exhaustive list of Native American totem poles--if you would like us to add your totem pole site to this page, please contact us with your URL and tribal affiliation.
We advertise any individual native artist or native-owned art business here free of charge. We do not link to totem poles which are not made by tribally recognized American Indian, Inuit, or First Nations artists, so please do not ask us to. And finally, websites do occasionally expire and change hands, so use your common sense and this general rule of thumb: if the creator of each individual artwork is not identified by name and specific tribe, you are probably not looking at a picture of a genuine Native American totem pole.
Back to Northwest Coast Indian ArtBack to our Native American Indian websites for kidsLanguage of the day: Cree languageNative American names Native weapons Cherokee jewelry Wolf symbol Native American tattoosWould you like to help support our organization's work with endangered North American Indian languages?See Also: Mendocino County Animal Shelter
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Out of a jungle of rain-washed pines and junipers spearing the recent blueness of the Florida sky, ran a little, tawny-haired boy. His bare ft, extending from his overalled legs, crackled against the fallen palmettos. He leaped into the air, flinging his arms toward a flock of white doves circling over him.
[embedded content] A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual. Some Native American tribe’s tradition provides that each person is connected with nine different animals that will accompany him or her through life, acting as guides. Different animal guides, also called spirit guides and/or power animals, come in and out of our lives depending on the direction that we are headed and the tasks that need to be completed along our journey.
These tribe’s beliefs further explain that a totem animal is one that is with you for life, both in the physical and spiritual world. Though people may identify with different animal guides throughout their lifetimes, it is this one totem animal that acts as the main guardian spirit. With this one animal, a connection is shared, either through interest in the animal, characteristics, dreams, or other interaction.
This Animal Guide offers power and wisdom to the individual when they “communicate” with it, conveying their respect and trust. This does not necessarily mean that he or she has actually touched or spent time with this animal, more that, they are open to learning its lessons. For some, knowing what is their totem animal is almost an innate process. It’s as if they’ve always known, inexplicably drawn to the animal or having a special feeling for the animal’s energy.
For others, they wonder how to tell what their animal totem is. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re wondering what your animal totem is: Have you ever felt drawn to one animal or another without being able to explain why? This could be any type of living creature, including birds and insects. Does a certain kind of animal consistently appear in your life? This doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical appearance, it could be represented in other ways, such as receiving card and letters with the same animal pictured over and over, unexplainable dreams of a particular animal, watching television and seeing the same animal featured time and time again, or, actually having the animal show up.
When you go to the zoo, a park, wildlife area, or forest, what are you most interested in seeing? Are there any animals that you find to be extremely frightening or intriguing? Is there a particular animal that you see frequently when you’re out in nature? Have you ever been bitten or attacked by an animal? Have you ever had a recurring dream about a certain animal, or a dream from childhood that you have never been able to forget? Are you drawn to figurines or paintings of a specific animal? If you still need more help ask the Universe for a dream or a vision to see if anything comes up.
Also ask the animal to show itself to you and pay attention to what you begin to see from all sources — television, books, billboards — it doesn’t have to be the actual animal. Does one animal begin to appear frequently? One thing to remember is that you cannot choose your totem spirit, rather it chooses or has already chosen you. The Spirit chooses you and they decide to whom they will reveal themselves.
Much of the process of identifying your spirit animal is paying attention to both your past and your present. It is a process of developing your inner knowledge and spiritual understanding. The totem itself is a symbol that represents this animal. This could be any number of items – a crest, a totem pole, an emblem, a small figurine, and engraved or painted stone, or anything else that depicts your animal guide.
Note: Native American totems did not include all of the animals listed below, as many of these creatures did not exist in North America; or, in some cases, not at all (such as the unicorn.) However; the concept of “totems,” by whatever name they were called, have been known throughout the world since the earliest days of Greek Mythology. Though the unicorn and dragon are generally accepted as centuries old mythical creatures of Europeans, pictures of these fabled animals have been found in Native American tapestries and pictographs.
It is also worth noting that not all Native American tribes held these beliefs. Animal Symbol Meaning Alligator Maternal, revenge oriented, quickness, aggression, stealth, efficiency, basic survival instincts. Ant Group minded, determination, patient, active, purposeful, unity, self sacrifice and industrious. Anteater Lethargy, curiosity, nosiness, ability to smell out trouble, rooting around for solutions, finding the lost.
Antelope Active, agile, jumpiness, keen eyesight, survival, willing to sacrifice, mental clarity, intuitive, protective. Armadillo Safety, grounded, sensitivity to attack, strong boundaries, trusting, reclusive, neutral, peaceful. Badger Courage, aggressive, healer, problems relating to others, energy conduit, determined, focused, confident. Bat Rebirth, longevity, secrecy, initiation, good listener, long life, illusion, journeying, inner depth.
Bear Industrious, instinctive, healing, power, sovereignty, guardian of the world, watcher, courage, will power, self-preservation, introspection, and great strength. Beaver Determined, strong-willed, builder, overseer, dreamer, protector, builder, motion, subconscious. Bee Organized, industrial, productive, wise, community, celebration, fertility, sweetness, defensiveness, obsessive nature, and enjoys life.
Boar/Pig A very powerful totem – prosperity, spiritual strength, organized, balanced complacency and activity, fearless. Buffalo Sacredness, life, great strength, abundance, gratitude, consistency, blessings, stability. Bull Insight into the past, fertility, raw expression, rushing into things, confidence, strength, provision. Butterfly Metamorphosis, transformation, balance, grace, ability to accept change, lightness, soul, vulnerability.
Camel Survival, endurance, obedience, nobility, positive, accomplishment, adaptive, temperance, humility. Caribou Traveler, mobility, preference to be nomadic, adaptability to adversity, sensitivity, guidance, surety. Cat Guardianship, detachment, sensuality, mystery, magic, independence, astute, watchful. Cheetah Swiftness, insight, focus, brotherhood, self-esteem, acceleration, elusiveness. Cougar Leadership, loyalty, courage, taking responsibility, foresight, sensing danger, awareness.
Cow Love of home, community, contentment, joy, easy going, patience, grounded, fertility. Coyote Trickster, intelligence, stealth, wisdom and folly, guile, innocence, skill. Cobra Swift and decisive, power of life and death, transformation, energy, connected to eternity. Crab Good luck, moves sideways, savvy, unorthodox, relaxed, cycles. Crane Solitude, justice, longevity, independent, intelligent, vigilant, focus.
Crocodile Ensuring your emotions are displayed accurately/appropriately. Crow Magical, shape shifting, change, creativity, spiritual strength, inelegancy, energy, higher perspective. Deer Compassion, peace, intellectual, gentle, caring, kind, subtlety, gracefulness, femininity, gentleness, innocence, and seller of adventure. Dog Noble, faithful, loyal, teaching, protection, guidance, obedience, sensory perception.
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