Totems

Hand Carved red cedar Killer Whale Totem by Haida artist Reg Davidson

"Perhaps the best known and most distinctive feature of Northwest Coast [Native] cultures is the tall, carved cecar log commonly referred to as a 'totem pole'. Massive, mystical and always intriguing, the large-scale carvings readily command attention and admiration...Different types of poles had significantly different functions...house portal pole[s]...house frontal pole[s]...memorial poles...mortuary pole[s]...house posts...[T]he one who commissioned the pole discussed with the artist what crests the pole was to depict or what legend it should illustrate" (Stewart 1984: 76-81).

-- Excerpt from Cedar by Hilary Stewart