What Does a Totem Pole Represent? Info, Hierarchy & History of Native American Totem Poles; Burial, Legend, Portal, Memorial & Heraldic

There is a common misconception that all Native American Tribes carved totem poles. This is simply untrue. There were several tribes that were located in areas that didn’t have trees to allow such a tradition. The tribes that lived in the southwest or on the plains, didn’t have trees that were large enough to carve. However, there are some totem poles that were crafted long ago measuring over 40 feet tall! There is a lot of history involved in the craftsmanship found carved into a totem pole. Carve Me a Bear! Chainsaw Carvings is here to talk about totem poles and what they mean.

Totem Poles Meanings

There are several purposes for a totem pole. They are usually used to signify special events or people. Here are a few different kinds of totem poles:
Burial Pole– These totems have been used to mark someone’s grave.
Legend Pole– Many tribes believe in supernatural encounters and this type of totem is a recording made of these encounters.
Portal or Entryway Pole– These totems are used to identify the family or owner of a house. It is located at the entrance of the house, and people have to pass through it to gain entry.
Memorial Pole– These poles are constructed to commemorate a person or leader of great importance.
Heraldic Pole– This pole is for record’s sake. They are constructed to tell the history of a family or clan.

Native American Totem Animals

When you look at a totem pole, you will often find they are very colorful and have many animals and other figures carved into them. Every aspect of the totem is a symbol that tells a story. Each clan or tribe has a specific animal totem with specific colors that represented them. All animals that are found carved into a totem pole have special characteristics and meaning behind them. Not only that, but each of the colors used on a totem have meaning and significance as well. The position of each animal or figure carved into a totem is also symbolic. These totem poles are full of symbolism, but are not worshiped. They are a sign of respect and affluence. Many of these poles get passed down from one generation to another and are cherished.

Custom Chainsaw Carvings & Totem Poles from Reclaimed Wood in Las Vegas, Nevada & Helena Montana

Totem poles usually don’t last forever, and it’s hard to find one from so long ago. They are made of wood, and with its organic nature, they start to break down and rot. There are some artists however, that still carve totem poles today and enjoy their unique beauty. The stories they tell are unique to the carver and often times tell a history of the family or tribe. Clark the Carver from Carve Me a Bear! Chainsaw Carvings takes great pride in his Native American heritage. He has family members that were members of the Little Shell Chippewa Cree. Chief Little Bear was a great leader and one of the biggest reasons that Clark focuses so much on carving bears. If you want to add this unique piece of art to your home or have a totem that you would like carved, Carve Me a Bear! Chainsaw Carvings can do it! Call today.