Ancient Religions

How are totem poles made?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. Totem poles are made by carving symbols in a large piece of wood. An authentic totem pole must:

    • Be carved from one piece of wood
    • Be carved by hand, by a trained Pacific Coast carver
    • Not be treated in any way
    • Be blessed by Native Americans from the Northwest Pacific Coast

    The oldest known totem poles are thought to have been carved in the 1880s, or perhaps the 1840s. However these poles are decaying, and won't survive too much longer [source: Totem-Pole.net]. The tallest authentic totem pole is 132 feet (40 meters) tall. There's one in Alert Bay, British Columbia, that measures 173 feet (53 meters), but this pole is made of numerous pieces of wood. Similarly, the 140-foot (43-meter) totem in Kalama, Wash., wasn't carved by an American Indian.

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