The Totem Pole reconstructs the intercultural history of the art in its myriad manifestations from the eighteenth century to the present. Aldonis Jonaitis and Aaron Glass analyze the totem pole’s continual transformation since Europeans first arrived on the scene, investigate its various functions in different contexts, and address the significant influence of colonialism on the proliferation and distribution of carved poles. The authors also trace the development of the art form: its spread from the Northwest Coast to world’s fairs and global theme parks; its integration with the history of tourism and its transformation into a signifier of place; the role of governments, museums, and anthropologists in collecting and restoring poles; and the part that these carvings have continuously played in First Nations struggles to reclaim control of their cultures and their lands.
Sidebars by scholars and artists, including Robert Davidson, Bill Holm, Richard Hunt, Nathan Jackson, Vickie Jensen, Ki-Ke-In, Andrea Laforet, Susan Point, Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Lyle Wilson, and Robin Wright, add lively discussions of specific carvings and their contexts.
Published in 2010