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Totem Poles

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Alexa Chesnut

on 27 February 2013

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Transcript of Totem Poles

History and Meaning of the Totem Pole Works Cited Totem poles are a tradition of the Native American tribes on the Pacific Northwest Coast (Washington state, USA; British Columbia, Canada; and some tribes in southern Alaska). Since most of them are made from western red cedar, a wood that decays easily over time, it is hard to determine the history of totem poles. Some anthropologists believe totem poles didn't even exist before Europeans came to the “New World". Others argue that there is no proof of this because the earliest remaining totems date back to only 1880. Oral histories of totem poles from these Native American tribes all say totems existed prior to European exploration. Totem poles were usually small enough for a person to carry around or sit inside a home until the 1800s, when it was typical for them to be single pieces of cedar up to forty feet in height. Cole chooses to carve a totem pole because he thinks it will help him to deal with his anger. Another reason is, when Cole sees the fallen tree, he not only thinks it can be used to carve a totem, but he thinks it would make a good canoe. He hardly sleeps that night as he is eaten alive by his guilt. The next morning, he cuts a deep groove in it. So, the only use left for the tree is a totem pole. Why did Cole make a totem pole? What did the carvings mean? information: The meanings of totem poles depend on the cultures that make them. Sometimes, they are used to decorate graves. Other times, nine animals are carved into a totem to represent the creatures that will accompany one in life. Also, totem poles represent ancestry and are a way to show one's life. What did Cole carve in his totem pole? In his totem pole, Cole carves an eagle, a wolf, a raven, a seal, a beaver, a spirit bear, a rain drop, a lightning bolt, a salmon, a mouse, and a circle. Cole carved the eagle to remind himself that eagles are proud and powerful.
The wolf was carved to remind Cole that he needs others, like a pack.
The raven does not have any significant meaning. There were many of the birds on the island, so Cole decided to carve one.
Cole carved the beaver to remind himself to have persistence, patience, and ingenuity.
The spirit bear reminded Cole to be invisible and clear his mind.
The rain drop and lightning bolt were carved after Cole danced the storm dance.
Cole and Peter carved the circle because it was the only thing Peter could teach Cole how to carve.
The mouse was carved into the totem to remind Cole of its persistence and boldness.
Cole didn't carve a seal for any apparent reason. pictures: picture #1 picture #2 picture #3 picture #1: http://www.treklens.com/gallery/photo110851.htm picture #2: http://dbowman.com/photos/vancouver03/gallery/totem-poles.php picture #3: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Totem_Pole_Groombridge.JPG http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totem_pole
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