Model Totem Pole

About this object

History of use

Traditionally, Coast Salish sculptures took the form of large-scale houseposts and boards, which were decorated with realistic looking animal, human and supernatural figures. Totem poles, originally only carved by their northern neighbours, became more popular in the early 20th century as tourist art. Many scholars feel that traditional styles of Coast Salish "art" were overlooked because it expressed private, non-secular experiences of the makers and they were reticent to discuss it or sell it to individuals outside of their communities. Miniature carved objects, such as totem poles and canoes, were popular forms of tourist art in the 20th century and are found in many museum collections.


This pole was brought to the 1949 Conference on Indian Affairs by the artist as an example of his work. Dr. Harry Hawthorn purchased the pole from the artist after the conference.

Cultural context

contemporary art; tourist art; woodworking

Physical description

Small, carved wooden totem pole depicting five figures. Top features a tapering conical figure with eyes, underneath which is a frog-like face followed by a serpent-like creature which is wrapped around the pole. The fourth representation is another face, while the bottom features a fish-like creature. The base is circular and has a large piece missing.