Native American Totem Pole

The traditional type of Native American totem pole often serves as a visual record of the history of a family or tribe. In some, specific events are captured and other types of Native American totem pole feature a telling of a particular tribe’s spiritual traditions, such as a creation story. 

While often anthropologists and others who study the Native American totem pole may disagree on the purpose of the totem pole or its roots in indigenous culture – with some believing it to be a post European art and others believing it to have a long history in native culture – one thing is certainly true. The Native American totem pole captures the imagination with its skillful carving and fascinating symbolism. 

The Native American totem pole is not a part of all indigenous cultures, as not all tribes lived in areas or in ways that made these items practical or possible. This form of visual art is primarily the expression of native peoples that lived in and around heavily forested areas, where they would have access to the materials required for the making of the Native American totem pole, and those who lived a less nomadic lifestyle than other tribes. Anthropologists point out that as the European came to hold more land that the indigenous peoples were forced to curtail their nomadic lifestyles and stay on the lands allotted them, relating this to the development of this art form.

The figures and forms used in the creation of a traditional type of Native American totem pole are those that are familiar to the specific culture within which it is made, which allows the pole to be read and to impart its particular history or story. Thus, there may be varied symbolism between tribes, though certain figures found on some types of Native American totem poles may have a somewhat universal meaning among indigenous peoples.

This art continues today, with the Native American totem pole still in use for recording family and tribe history and special events. Fascinating and often haunting, the Native American totem pole is rich with symbolism and meaning, both in a historic context and a modern one.

Joseph Paige 2006

Native American
Native Americans
Native Americans 2
Native American Ancestry
Native American Art
Native American Art 2
Native American Art Gallery
Native American Artifacts
Native American Artists
Native American Beadwork
Native American Blankets
Native American Books
Native American Bracelets
Native American Ceramics
Native American Church
Native American Clothing
Native American Clothing 2
Native American Clothes
Native American Coins
Native American Crafts
Native American Culture
Native American DNA
Native American Dance
Native American Dance 2
Native American Dating
Native American Demographics
Native American Dolls
Native American Drawings
Native American Dream Catcher
Native American Drums
Native American Drums 2
Native American Earrings
Native American Figurines
Native American Films
Native American Flute
Native American Flute 2
Native American Food
Native American Food 2
Native American Games
Native American Genealogy
Native American Genetics
Native American Gifts
Native American Healing
Native American Headdress
Native American Heritage Month
Native American History
Native American Indian Jewelry
Native American Indians
Native American Indians 2
Native American Jewellery
Native American Jewelry
Native American Jewelry 2
Native American Law
Native American Life
Native American Market
Native American Masks
Native American Medicine
Native American Medicine Wheel
Native American Moccasins
Native American Money
Native American Month
Native American Music
Native American Music 2
Native American Names
Native American Navajo
Native American Necklace
Native American Paintings
Native American Peace Pipe
Native American Poetry
Native American Poetry 2
Native American Portraits
Native American Pottery
Native American Pottery 2
Native American Pow Wow
Native American Pow Wow 2
Native American Products
Native American Rattles
Native American Recipes
Native American Religion
Native American Rights
Native American Rings
Native American Rugs
Native American Sand Painting
Native American Sculptures
Native American Spears
Native American Spirituality
Native American Stories
Native American Tomahawks
Native American Totem Pole
Native American Totem Poles
Native American Tattoos
Native American Tattoos 2
Native American Tattoos 3
Native American Tribe
Native American Tribes
Native American Tribes 2
Native American Tribes 3
Native American Videos
Native American Wolf
Native American Words
Native American Women
Northwest Native American Art