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The Totem Pole


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Reconstructs the intercultural history of the totem pole as art form

Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsPrologue 1. Excursions: Toward an Intercultural Biography of the Totem PolePART 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 CarvingPART 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 EncounterAppendix 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

About the Author

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.


... an essential work, one that will surely serve as a model for other explorations of material culture in contexts of interethnic encounter.

-- Francis Goicovich * Pacific Northwest Quarterly *

Jonaitis and Glass invigorate the history and analysis of Northwest Coast totem poles with a neomodernist discussion of how cultural interaction unfolds as a dialogue between groups.

-- Daniel Monteith * Alaska History *

This richly illustrated, highly accessible, and thoroughly researched volume has made an important contribution to the study of totem poles, Northwest Coast art and culture, museum studies, and the history of anthropology.

* American Anthropologist * informative, thought provoking, and beautifully illustrated collection of essays by art historian Aldona Jonaitis and anthropologist Aaron Glass. Not only does the book present solid scholarship, its contents clearly are the result of the authors' genuine affection for their subject matter.

* Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources *

Although there are a number of books on totem poles... this book stands alone in adding the influence of non-Native and non-Northwest Coast individuals to the development and use of totem poles as monuments and as icons. Valuable for an academic audience, the book is readily accessible to general readers, as most theoretical ideas are concisely and clearly discussed in footnotes. The variegated and constantly shifting uses and meanings of the totem pole icon are truly incredible. Highly recommended.

* Choice *

Words like seminal, definitive, and encyclopedic are bound to accrue to The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History.... Widely researched and richly illustrated, this big, beautiful book tells us why we find images of totem poles on everything from fridge magnets and Frisbees to back scratchers and Boy Scout badges.

* Georgia Straight *

... the defining take on this fascinating subject.

* Art History Newsletter *

The Totem Pole is a visually rich, gracefully written cultural biography.

* The Book Monger *

Recommendation: For anybody interested in Native American art.

* Birdbooker Report *

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