|Chief Kyan Totem Pole|
Totem poles were carved for several reasons: to honor deceased ancestors, record history, social events and oral traditions. They were never objects of worship.
One of my pictures shows the Chief Kyan Totem Pole. It is actually a replica of the original which was carved in the late 1800s. The figures on the totem pole are the Crane which represents the chief's wife, the Thunderbird representing his wife's clan, and the Brown Bear which was the crest of Chief George Kyan. His Tlingil name was Yaansein and he was a member of the Wolf Clan and the Tantakwaan Tribe. The chief sold 160 acres to Mike Martin whose fish camp and other business ventures led to the incorporation of Ketchikan.
|Chief Johnson Totem Pole|
To view some of the original totem poles, you need to go the to Totem Heritage Center. There are also pictures there of the villages from which the originals were retrieved and now are preserved in climate controlled displays.
So next time someone tries to tell you that you're low man on the totem pole take it as a compliment. The most honored place is there for many reasons. It's the beginning of the story. It's the place where people get the best view of the carving. The master carver always did the bottom leaving his apprentices to work on the top carvings. And in my opinion, it's a place of strength. After all the low man is holding up the rest of the pole.