The Northwest Coast totem pole captivates the imagination. From the first descriptions of these tall carved monuments, totem poles have become central icons of the Northwest Coast region and symbols of its Native inhabitants. Although many of those who gaze at these carvings assume that they are ancient artifacts, the so-called totem pole is a relatively recent artistic development, one that has become immensely important to Northwest Coast people and has simultaneously gained a common place in popular culture from fashion to the funny pages.
The Totem Pole reconstructs the intercultural history of the art form in its myriad manifestations from the eighteenth century to the present. Aldona 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 describe their theories on 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 Native struggles for control of their cultures and their lands.
Short essays by scholars and artists, including Robert Davidson, Bill Holm, Richard Hunt, Nathan Jackson, Vickie Jensen, Andrea Laforet, Susan Point, Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Lyle Wilson, and Robin Wright, provide specific case studies of many of the topics discussed, directly illustrating the various relationships that people have with the totem pole.
Aldona Jonaitis is director emerita of the University of Alaska Museum of the North and professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. An art historian who has published widely on Native American art, she is the author of Art of the Northwest Coast and Looking North: Art from the University of Alaska Museum, among other titles.
PrefaceAcknowledgmentsPrologue 1. Excursions: Toward an Intercultural Biography of the Totem Pole PART ONE: Totem Poles in the Colonial Imagination2. On Commerce and Cultures: Explorers and Merchants Encounter Carved Columns3. The Dynamics of Settler Colonialism, the Rise and Fall of Totem Poles, and the Emergence of Anthropology4. "Places of Totemic Delight": Significant Sights / Sites on the Northwest Coast5. Totems for Tourists: On Salvage and Salvation6. The Expansion of Totem Pole Form: Minis, Maxis, and Multiples (or, the Small, the Tall, and the Kitschy) PART TWO: The Global Circulation of Totem Poles7. Transforming Emblems at Museums and Expositions: Poles in the Global Village8. "Monuments in Multichrome": Totem Poles and the Promotion of Place9. Beyond Restoration: The Work of Wilson Duff10. High Art from Rainy Places: The "Renaissance" of Totem Carving PART THREE: Current Cultures of the Totem Pole11. Beyond Fairs: Contemporary Cultural Tourism and Ethnokitsch12. Family Trees and Tribal Treaties: On the Politics of Poles13. Totem Poles and the Mediation of Colonial Encounter Appendix A. A Selected and Annotated List of Books on Totem PolesAppendix B. Primary Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Reports of Monumental Carvings on the Northwest Coast (1778-1900) Appendix C. A Selection of Early Illustrations of Totem Poles and Major Photographic Expeditions (1778-1900)Appendix D. A Selective List of Poles Collected or Commissioned for Destinations Abroad (1880-1970)Appendix E. A Selection of Totem Poles at Regional, National and International Expositions (1876-1994)Appendix F. A Selection of Totem Poles at British Columbian and Canadian CelebrationsAppendix G. A Selection of Poles Raised in or for Native Communities (1957-1988) ReferencesIndex