A Tsleil-Waututh First Nation Totem Pole

Essay by taramankyUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2004

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First Nations Artifact Assignment

Title: unknown

Ethnic Group: Burrard Band of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. Considered to be part of the Coastal Salish. The reserve is about 3km east of the 2nd Narrows Bridge, via Dollarton Highway in North Vancouver. The reserve is near but not quite on Indian Arm, looking out to oil refineries on the southern reaches of their traditional territories across Burrard Inlet. The range of the Tsleil-Waututh traditionally spanned the entire inlet, reaching north up Indian Arm and south to Burnaby and Deer Lakes. The current leader to the Band is Chief Dan George. Southwest coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Description: The artifact I have chosen to write on is a 17.5" (44.5cm) totem pole carved by Rocky Mathias Joe. It stands on a base that is approximately 7.5" (18.5cm) by 4" (10.5cm). The wood it is carved out of is a very soft wood (it can be marked by a finger nail).

There are three major figures that make up the totem: Bear, Eagle and a person's face. Bear takes up the bottom half (8.5" or 21.5cm) of the miniature pole. Its distinguishing features that help to differentiate Bear from Beaver are its pointed incisors and lack of a tail (Beaver has square incisors and an oval "cross-hatched" tail). Bear is seated with its forearms and hind-legs in front of it with a face carved between its four limbs. The face looks like a carving of a man, probably of First Nations decent and representing a specific person. On the upper half (8.75" or 22cm) of the totem is the eagle with its wings at rest at its sides. The distinguishing feature of Eagle is its hooked beak, which makes it distinct from Raven or Thunderbird.

Meanings and Symbolism:

Construction: With the...