Idabel, OK (May 7, 2018)—In conjunction with its Arts of the Pacific Northwest Coast exhibit, the Museum of the Red River will have a “miniature totem pole” workshop on May 26. Families may drop in and drop out any time between 10 am and 3 pm. Participants will learn about the history of totem poles and create their own using cardboard tubes, paint, paper and other household items. The workshop is free and is led by Museum educator Christina Eastep.
Totem poles were made by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and Canada. They were used for a variety of purposes. Some served as memorials for an event or deceased person. Others were placed along the edge of a stream or village to welcome strangers to the community. Some were even used to ridicule people who failed to pay their debts or did something wrong! These totem poles were placed in prominent locations and only removed after the debt was paid or the wrong corrected. Whatever their function was, each totem pole followed a standardized, intricate pattern that made it familiar to most, if not all, groups in the area. Moreover, each totem poles was a sign of a person’s wealth—hiring an artist to construct a massive wood carving was an expensive endeavor that only a few could afford!
[Pictured: Totem poles and houses at ‘Ksan, near Hazelton, British Columbia. By Owen – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15076915]