Ursi's Eso Garden
Your Competent Esoteric Guide
Saturday, 05. January 2008
"Idols of the British Columbian Indians." (Benjamin West Kilburn, 1827-1909)
When Europeans first came as visitors to the Northwest Coast, they were awed by the monumental totem poles. Later when they became colonizers, they sought to destroy this powerful symbol of indigenous identity by theft and suppression. When a dozen of Alaska's most magnificent totem poles were displayed at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition (left), they were viewed as the products of a dying culture. Yet the culture has not died, but ironically the ancient cedar trees on which the totem carving traditions depend have all but been exterminated.
Today's cross cultural fascination with totem poles is reflected by the surprisingly high number of totem pole sites on the World Wide Web. Although these sites are spread over twelve countries, only two of these - Canada and the USA - have an indigenous tradition of totem poles carved from ancient red cedar trees. This internet resource lists selected totem pole sites by their country of origin: American (47); Australian (1); Austrian (1); Belgian (1); Canadian (72); Dutch (3); English (4); Finnish (1); German (4); Icelandic (1); Scottish (2); and Swedish (1). Out of a total of 150 sites, about one fifth (33) are indigenously owned.
Wrangell Indian Village (T. Richardson)
Totem poles are carved from some of the oldest and biggest trees on Earth. These spectacular biological wonders are the result of 10,000 years of habitat evolution. Sitka spruce, red and yellow cedar, western hemlock and Douglas fir can grow over 300 feet tall and live for over 1,500 years. It is widely recognized that cedar trees are vital to the culture and lives of the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast yet no legal protection exists for these "Aboriginal Heritage Trees."
Despite centuries of theft and colonial attempts to eradicate totem poles, the art has survived and flourishes. Totem poles are raised to mark community events such as the naming of a chief: inaugurating a new house; honouring a family; hailing a marriage; ridiculing a debtor; celebrating a birth; or commemorating a death.
Totem Poles by Dr. Karen Wonders.
Some links are broken, however a great resource!
Category: Ethno & Shamanism |
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