Have you ever seen a totem pole and wondered what is the true meaning behind all of the designs, symbols and colors? Native American culture brought them into the lives of us all. However, not too many people know the significance that these constructions brought to their people. Original native of Pacific Northwest North America primarily used these sculptures as a representation of their clan or family. Each version of the totem pole, was supposed to signify the spirit which guided and primarily resided over each individual family. In other words, these weren’t objects of faith, but of respect and value.

 

Symbolism Within Totem Poles

 

Each formation, design, color and symbol on a totem pole has some significance. First of all, the larger and more vivid a totem pole is, the longer the history or line of the clan is. They almost incorporate a story as you look down the pole. Secondly, these pieces took a long time to make. So, they had to inscribe the culture of their clan within each intricate step. Differences of colors and features usually constituted the actual clan. Whereas, the figures carved, such as spirits and animals, may constitute the story of the clan, or a myth or legend that their culture revered. Finally, position of the totem poles could make claims of land or signify territory. If you saw a totem pole towering over a body of water, you’d know that clan had claim to the water in the area.

 

Integration of First Nations Culture

 

Unfortunately, in the past, all of the natives’ culture was not accepted. People who were not of their origin, saw these cultural masterpieces as a symbol of a form of shamanistic practices. Witchcraft and superstition were high in the minds of early settlers. However, as time passed people began accepting the culture. Now, these pieces can be found almost anywhere. Their significance is no longer the same as the beautifully sculpted totem poles of the past. Totem poles can be found to be used in your home as a decoration in many thrift stores.