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Section I.



Totem Poles: Meaning and History

My knowledge of totem poles is somewhat limited. Totem poles are large carvings made from entire trunks of trees. Native Americans in Northwestern United States and Eastern Canada began the tradition of carving these monuments, and different figures on the pole represent different people or events. The practice has now become an art form, and the use of totem poles has spread beyond the tribes that created it.

Through researching this topic, I would like to discover the origins, uses, significance, and meaning of totem poles. I would like to find out if and how they are used in today's modern society. Has the traditional value and significance of totem poles declined with increased commercialism and misuses of the totem pole? Has it become a widespread art form that other cultures are inheriting, or are totem poles still a product of the Northwest Native Americans?

Most people recognize and could identify a totem pole. Few people, however, know their true history and meaning. Anyone that has ever wondered about the origins of these magnificent sculptures will benefit from my research. The research may also attract those interested in art or art history. The totem pole is a significant Native American art form that should be included in the study of American art.

Section I-b Keywords and Searches

UNC Library Catalog
Totem poles AND history
Northwest coast AND art

Academic Universe Lexis-Nexis
"totem pole" art
"totem pole" history
contemporary "totem pole"

Web <http://www.google.com>
Totem pole history
Northwest coast art

Section II

Print Sources

Jensen, Vickie. Where the People Gather: Carving a Totem Pole. Seattle:
University of Washington Press (1992). E99.N734 J44 1992

Shearar, Cheryl. Understanding Northwest Coast Art: A Guide to the Crests,
Beings, and Symbols. Seattle: University of Washington Press (2000).
E78.N78 S446 2000

Non-Print Sources

Curtis, Edward S; Quimbly, George Irving. In the Land of the War Canoes:
Kwakiutl Indian Life on the Northwest coast (1992) [Video]. Available:
Milestone Film & Video [2002] 65-V3581

Section III

Online Sources

Edwards, Bob; Smith, Robert. (2002, September 30) History and Significance of Totem Poles. National Public Radio [Online], 30 paragraphs. Available: LEXIS-NEXIS Academic Universe. [2003, February 2]

Broom, Jack. (2002, September 26) Carving Out History: Totems Stand Tall in New Burke Exhibit; An Exhibit at the Burke Museum Examines the Power of Totem Poles. The Seattle Times. [Online], 8 paragraphs. Available: LEXIS-NEXIS Academic Universe. [2003, February2]

Maves Jr., Norm. (2002, August 24) Power of Pole Inspires Prayer. The Oregonian. [Online], 25 paragraphs. Available: LEXIS-NEXIS Academic Universe. [2003, February 2]

Kiers, Roger. (2002, January/February) Icon of the Northwest. Archaeology. [Online], 5 paragraphs. Available: Infotrac. [2003, February 2]

Dearborn, Keri. (2002, April) Totem Poles. Faces. [Online], 18 paragraphs. Available: Infotrac. [2003, February 2]

Macphee, Erin Ryan. (1994, January) Totems. Arts and Activities. [Online], 9 paragraphs. Available: Infotrac. [2003, February 2]

Section IV Related Websites

Title: Totem Poles of the North American Northwest Coast Indians
Web Address: http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1985/6/85.06.01.x.html
Description: Cultural overview of totem poles by Yale-New Haven Public Schools. This is a lesson plan, yet teachers and non-teachers alike will find the content to be of interest.
Source: Yale-New Haven Teacher's Institute

Title: Totem Poles: Heraldic Columns of the Northwest Coast
Web Address: http://content.lib.washington.edu/aipnw/wright/wright.html
Description: A scholarly account of the historical and cultural significance of totem poles written by Dr. Robin D. Wright for the University of Washington Digital Libraries.
Source: University of Washington

Title: The Respect to Bill Reid Pole
Web Address: http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/Exhibitions/Billreidpole/english/
Description: A timeline of the work done by the late Haida carver, Bill Reid (1920 - 1998). The timeline is rich with information regarding the symbolism, history, and carving of the poles.
Source: UBC Museum of Anthropology

Title: Northwest Coast Totem Poles
Web Address: http://www.washington.edu/burkemuseum/nwtotem.html
Description: A website to accompany a major exhibit. Contains some history of totem poles, useful links, myths vs. facts, and a rich bibliography.
Source: Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Title: On the Totem Trail
Web Address: http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/journeys/01/jun01/totem.html
Description: A Smithsonian article that details specific facts about the history and significance of totem poles.
Source: Smithsonian Magazine


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