What do the carvings on a totem pole mean and What were totem poles used for?

A totem pole was a giant sculpture carved from the trunk of a cedar tree.

Wealthy Native American families hired artists to create totem poles, which they proudly placed outside their houses. By displaying a totem pole, a family could let everyone in the village know how important and powerful it was.

The carvings on a totem pole were carefully chosen to tell a story. Through images of humans, animal, and beings from the spirit-world, they depicted moments in the family’s history.

what do the carvings on a totem pole mean and what were totem poles used for

Usually they told of how supernatural beings gave the family spiritual power. Claiming this type of special relationship with spirits allowed a rich family to say it deserved all the privileges its wealth could buy. To keep this close connection to the spirit-world alive, a totem pole owner might place food or tobacco in front of the pole as a gift to the spirit-beings.

Erected outside a family’s house, each totem pole told the story of that family through carefully selected images. Many poles were erected in a Haida village near Howkan, Alaska.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.