Discovering Totem Poles

A Traveler's Guide

Aldona Jonaitis

  • $18.95 paperback (9780295991870) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 2012
  • Subject Listing: Art History / Native American and Indigenous Art; Native American and Indigenous Studies; Travel
  • Bibliographic information: 144 pp., 90 color illus., 6 x 10 in.
  • Territorial rights: N/A in Canada
  • Contents

Rising from a forest mist or soaring overhead in parks and museums, magnificent cedar totem poles have captured the attention and imagination of visitors to Washington State, British Columbia, and Alaska.

Discovering Totem Poles is the first guidebook to focus on the complex and fascinating histories of the specific poles visitors encounter in Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, Alert Bay, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau. It debunks common misconceptions about totem poles and explores the stories behind the making and displaying of 90 different poles.

Travelers with this guide in their pockets will return home with a deeper knowledge of the monumental carvings, their place in history, and the people who made them.

Watch the book trailer:
Aldona Jonaitis is the author of a number of books including Art of the Northwest Coast and, with Aaron Glass, The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History. She is director emerita of the University of Alaska Museum of the North.

1. The Seattle Totem Pole at Pioneer Square
2. Grizzly Bear House Posts at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture Victoria
3. Wawadit'la, the Mungo Martin House at the Royal British Columbia Museum
4. Sgaang Gwaii (Ninstints) Poles at the Royal British Columbia Museum
5. Tony Hunt's Grizzly Bear and Human Post at Horseshoe Bay

6. Haesemhliyawn Memorial Totem Pole of the Gitk'san fromGitanyow (Kitwancool) at the Museum of Anthropology
7. Monuments by Bill Reid, Doug Cranmer, and Jim Hart at the Museum of Anthropology
8. The Thunderbird House Post by Tony Hunt at Stanley Park
9. Carvings by Susan Point, Joe David, and Don Yeomans at Vancouver International Airport

Vancouver Island
10. The World's Tallest Pole at Alert Bay
11. The Poles in Alert Bay Prince Rupert
12. Eagle on the Decayed Pole at Prince Rupert by Dempsey Bob and Glen Wood

Haida Gw aii
13. Qay'llnagaay (Sea Lion Town) Ketchikan
14. Saxman and Totem Bight
15. A Portrait in Saxman Park
16. The Clan House at Totem Bight
17. The Chief Kyan Pole
18. The Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Health Center Totem Poles Sitka
19. Chief Saanaheit's Poles at the Sitka National Historical Park
20. Sitka's Monuments at World's Fairs
21. The K'aylaan Pole by Tommy Joseph
22. The Sitka Wellbreity Totem Pole by Wayne Price

23. Culturally Modified Trees by Richard Beasley at Mount Roberts
24. The Waasgo Pole at the Alaska State Office Building
25. The Wooshkeetan Pole by Nathan Jackson and Steve Brown

Suggested Further Reading

"Discovering Totem Poles is, as the title makes clear, geared toward travelers, but there is plenty here to hold the interest of Southeast Alaskans as well."
-Amy Fletcher, Juneau Empire, July 2012

"Jonaitis is refreshingly iconoclastic, reminding us that totem poles were never worshipped or considered sacred and the concept of 'low man on the totem pole' has no meaning."
-Mike Dillon, City Living, June 2012