Do you importance of Totem Poles?

How to celebrate 150th Canada Day (Totem-Poles sign 2)

[email protected] Calgary, Canada, Canada day, Indigenous, Totem Pole 1 Comment

Totem Poles Sign Part 2


We are continuing ourpost from yesterday, here is the next post. This is next post of our series of 150 posts for 150th Canada Day. In addition to other pole types, the next is the Shame/ridicule pole.



Shame/ridicule Pole


The Poles used for public ridicule are shame poles. They created these poles to embarrass people or groups for their unpaid debts or when they did something wrong. These poles are placed in prime locations. Since they paid the debt or fixed the wrong, the pole is removed. Shame pole carvings represent the person being shamed.


One famous shame pole is the Seward Pole at the Saxman Totem Park in Saxman, Alaska. They created this shame pole to shame former U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward when he declined to reciprocate the courtesy of his Tlingit hosts following a potlatch was given in his honor. This pole’s intent is indicated by the figure’s red-painted nose and ears to symbolized Seward’s stinginess.


Another Shame Pole


Another same example of shame pole is the three frogs pole on Chief Shakes Island at Wrangell, Alaska. The pole was erected by Chief Shakes to shame the Kiks.adi clan into repaying a debt incurred for the support of 3 Kiks.adi women. When the Kiks.adl leaders refused to pay support for the women, Shakes commissioned a  pole with carvings of 3 frogs. The three frogs represented the crest of the Kiks.adi clan.


Totem Poles in a different context


Some poles from the Pacific NW are moved to other locations for display out of their original context. For example, Alaska’s district governor, John Green Brady, used 15 poles for public displays. Some were in Alaska, some went to Indianapolis.





A Totem Pole with different characters.

This is a Redskins Totem Pole.



Totem Poles construction


After the tribe selected a tree, they cut it down and moved to a carving site. Then bark and sapwood (outer layer of wood) is removed. Once they decided the side the back half of the tree is  also removed.  The center of the log is hollowed out to make it lighter and to keep it from cracking.


Can you imagine, early tools were made of stone, shell or bones? By 1700, they started using iron tools. The other tools used in addition to the mentioned earlier were chainsaw, knives, woodworking tools, adzes, and chisels etc.


How they performed maintenance


Totem poles are typically not well maintained after the installation and potlatch celebrations. They have a lifespan of 60 to 80 years. A few have reached 75 and fewer celebrated 100th birthday.


Once the rotten wood posed a threat to a passerby, the pole it is either destroyed or removed completely. The owner of a collapsed pole may install a new one to replace it.



Enjoy this Northwest Coast Totem Pole

This is a Totem Pole from Northwest Coast.


Important Totem Poles


  • Alert Bay, British Columbia
  • Mckinleyville, California
  • Kalama, Washington
  • Kake, Alaska
  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • Tacoma, Washington
  • Vancouver, British Columbia


You can see notable collections of these poles on display at following sites:



In conclusion


In conclusion, we would like to say, if there is anything you want to know about Canada, let us know by leaving a comment and we will try to bring that information to you. Thank you for reading.



Comments 1

  1. Wow, I had never heard of the shame poles before! Really interesting. It’s amazing how they were able to make these with no modern tools. Great photos, thanks for sharing 🙂

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