Animal Totems are particularly associated with the Totem Poles that are created by six tribes of Northwest Natives, the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. The names of the Northwest Tribes who carved Animal Totems on Totem Poles were the Tlingit, Haida, Bella Coola, Kwakiutl, Tsimshian and the West Coast tribes. Animal Totems and symbols are carved and painted on to long wooden poles that represented the emblems of clans or families and relate to their belief in Totemism. Animal totems were believed to have spiritual significance and watched over the family, clan, or tribe symbolizing their guardian spirit or helper. Animal Totems were not worshipped but they inspired immense respect. Refer to Totem Pole Art and Design for additional facts and information about the design of Totem Poles and their symbolism.
The BEAR is known for its human-like qualities and caring for family. The Bear is a symbol of strength, power and honor.
The Butterfly represents freedom and spirituality.
The crow is a helper animal in the traditional stories.
The DRAGONFLY symbolizes diligence, hard work and perseverance.
The EAGLE is revered for its beauty, regal nature and signifies peace, spirituality and friendship.
The FROG is a symbol of innocence, stability and communication. It is known as a bringer knowledge and wealth.
This is a popular crest among the northern Northwest coast Indigenous tribes and plays an important role in traditional culture.
The HAWK is recognizable by its hooked beak, and is known for its keen eyesight which symbolizes vision and judgment.
Heron is known as a helper - after the great flood many animals tried to dive to the seafloor but were unable, then Heron dived deeper than all of them and returned with a handful of soil that Raven transformed into the lands that we inhabit today.
The HUMMINGBIRD is a gentle creature, and is known for its fortitude and ability to overcome great obstacles. The Hummingbird symbolizes peace, healing and joy.
The Orca and the Killerwhale are terms for the same animal, and is a crest belonging to high ranking families on the Northwest coast.
In the ancient stories the Loon takes the hero under the sea, or under a mystic mountain to other realms. The Loon symbolizes a doorway or a portal to another world' a new stage or period of life.
In the ancient stories the Octopus was a powerful creature that lived in the undersea world. It was a time when animals and people could transform, and one story tells of the Octopus taking a chief’s wife for his own, and years later the Octopus / human children returning from the world under the sea to live in their father’s village.
The ORCA is the Lord of the Ocean and the most respected of all sea creatures. The Orca symbolize s wealth and long life.
The Otter is highly regarded in traditional Northwest coast Native culture. Its fur was highly prized and was worn by chiefs. It is a symbol of sociability, kindliness and good intent.
The OWL symbolizes wisdom, long life and one who gives advice.
The Puffin was highly regarded in traditional culture. It was rare and was used to adorn chief’s ceremonial regalia.
The RAVEN is known as the trickster because of his quick wit and sense of humor. He is curious and symbolizes creativity, prestige and knowledge.
The SALMON is a symbol of prosperity and good luck. Every four years they return to the river where they were born, and are highly respected by all the tribes of Pacific coast.
Also known as a Sisiutl, it is a mythical animals that is popular in the ancient stories. It could give great power to anyone who possessed it.
The Sun symbolizes the father of mankind and is a creator symbol.
The THUNDERBIRD is the most powerful of all mythical creatures, and symbolizes personal power and a link to the spirit world.
Wasgo is a supernatural sea-creature that is part wolf and whale. It is a common crest animal among the northern First Nations.
The WOLF is known for its association with spiritual power. It is a symbol of family, unity and spirituality.