|For the full story of totems, purchase Altitude's Totem
Poles. It tells several fascinating totem stories of Bear, Eagle, Raven, Beaver,
Mountain Goat, Thunderbird, Whale and more. Plus, the book features hundreds of large
scale color photos.
Available from : www. amazon.com
|Grand lord of the Sky Realm Thunderbird
can make himself invisible and appear as a great wind. Groups of Thunderbirds are
often busy with their own Wars carried out in the sky realm beyond human perception.
When there are battles, humans can hear thunder and see lightning in the sky. Occasionally
one of these grand creatures will come to human ceremony dressed as a great eagle
|Thunderbird's blockheaded brother, Kolus,
sometimes pretends he's Thunderbird himself. Always trying to prove himself he sometimes
flies too close to the sun and that's why his feather tips are burned black. He eats
Mosquitoes and sometimes helps humans lift the heavy roof beam of their longhouses
|Aristocratic lord of the Sky Realm, Eagles are
part of Thunderbird's entourage. They live with other lordly Eagles in the sky kingdom,
often getting into wars. Occasionally, they transform into a human dancer and attend
|Powerful, ever-transforming trickster Raven
has over 90 stories told about him. Ever hungry, deviant, compulsive, crooked, corrupt
and deceptive, he still manages to be likable Though he is often in big trouble.
he is usually able to trick his way out of it. Ever politically incorrect, it's not
a good idea to speak disrespectfully in front of him or those who use him as their
symbol. Never underestimate Raven's power. Among his many clever forms, he can transform
into is a fearsome cannibalistic creature called Hok Hok who can pluck your
Rulers of their own underwater city, Whales,
also known as Blackfish, live with other royal underwater beings
like Copper Woman and Komogwa, the underwater sea king. Whales hate
Thunderbirds because Thunderbirds can scoop Whales right out of the water and eat
them. Some Whales get tired of ocean life, scrap off their skin, and turn into Wolves.
In this form, they continue to hunt on land in killer-packs. A Whale that has transformed
halfway is called a Sea Wolf.
- All Whales in B.C. are pictured head down (to symbolize
defeat) because an Alaskan tribe once defeated the Nass tribes and demanded to exclusively
use the Whale symbol. Alaskan carvers carve Whale hear up or head down as they please.
And B.C. carvers have found a way to use the figure again. Find the eye and teeth,
the dorsal fin. The tail doesn't show in this photo. But this Whale's blow hole is
in its dorsal fin. Fun!
|We know this creature as an Octopus, but on
Alaskan totems its usually called a Devilfish. It could grab a man with its
tentacles and hold them underwater 'til they drowned. They were attracted to the
|Siskiutl (pronounced SISK-you-ul) is a two-headed
sea serpent who can turn enemy warriors into stone with one glance. It's been known
to swiftly pull huge war canoes to the site of a battle, Wearing its symbol protects
those who wear it from injury during war. This creature has removable sharp crystal
eyes and cutting spines. It hates Thunderbirds, but loves blood and cuts. Probably
modeled on the huge sturgeon that live in these parts, it's prickly reputation may
come from the young sturgeon's sharp razor spines.
|Bears live in their own villages in the forests and
are able to make fires with wet sticks. They can easily transform into human form
though as such, they have a lumbering gait and wear thick bearskin coats. Animal
or human, they must not be insulted or cursed. Male Bears are caring creatures with
a yen to marry human princesses. Bear Mothers have twin children who grow
to adulthood in record time.
Vengeful creatures, Beavers occasionally
murder humans. If provoked, they dig underground tunnels that undermine villages
and cause earthquakes and landslides. With their fine front teeth, they not only
build dens, they make fine arrows. Beavers were at War with humans for a long time
(the beaver pelt trade of the 1800s).
- See this Beaver's long front teeth and tail folded
up in front.
|Much misunderstood and underestimated, Frog
is associated with the bringing of great fortune or even wealth. It can survive bursting
out of its skin, being buried in the lava of volcanic eruptions and being buried.
It must not be insulted as it is a great friend of Copper Woman who lives in the
Undersea realm. If insulted, it tattles to her and she causes volcanic eruptions.
- Wild Woman (known by various names) owns
certain valuable treasures that humans love to get their hands on. But, thief that
she is, she's the one who usually steals fish and treasures from humans. Her fancy
name is pronounced SO-no-kwa (Tsonoqua) or Dah-ZUN-kwa (Dzunkwa). This creature lives
on the Earth Realm, smells awful, and collects human children to eat. But relax:
they usually escape because she is so dull-witted. Left over from the time when cannibals
roamed the earth, she cannot be killed-- not permanently. When she is burned up in
a fire for her crimes, her ashes fly up into the air and turn into Mosquitos... grey
little ash-like creatures, still hungry for blood.
- Some say this creature is modeled after the Bigfoot
or Sasquatch said to live in this part of the world.
- Wolf is a solitary creature who
is a good drummer, howls at the moon and likes to go to midnight dances. Because
of its late night habits, it has made friends with the Ghost People who also
like to dance around at night. Wolf is a great healer and knows many secrets. Some
human shamans can turn into Wolves and some Wolves turn into shamans.
- Wolf and Raven are the two main totem crests in