March 31st, 2011

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An Exploration of Totem Poles

 This interview explores cultural perceptions of totem poles (which might more precisely be called "heraldic poles").  

When I visited the west coast, I was intrigued by the vivid native art.  Different regions have their own historic styles, and that one is very stark -- bold lines, stylized shapes, and an accented color pattern (often black, white, and red).  The animals and plants in native art are usually those most important to a specific tribe and region.  So on the coast you see bears, ravens, salmon, orcas, etc.  Contrast that with the Midwest where images included bison, wolves, deer, hawks, and corn.  Art tells a lot about how a culture evolves over time and what it values.