Totem poles are fascinating and mysterious symbols of Pacific Northwest Native American cultures. The purpose of Paper Totem Poles for C
hildren is to pique the interests of youngsters by providing an overview about totem pole art and cultures along with coloring book style samples of both actual and whimsical pole characters the kids can use to practice creating their own unique life stories.
Totem poles are vary tall statues carved from large, mostly Western Red Cedar trees. Totem poles exist primarily in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and British Columbia areas. Symbols were constructed primarily by Northwest Coast tribal groups including the Tlingit, Kwakiutl, Haida, Tsimshian and Chilkat.
The first totem poles were carved from mature cedar and used by family-clans in Potlatch ceremonies. The word totem comes from the Ojibwe language word "odoodem" which means "his kinship group," or brother, sister, kin. Each totem pole contains designs and symbols that are carved emblems of the chief's family and tell a story to remind members of their family history. The totem pole is carved and painted with family or clan emblems, crests and figures which represent mythic beings. It is generally erected in front of or near a dwelling. Often the meanings of the symbols and story they told were known only by the members of the particular clan or the artist.
Many of the images are based upon photographs of existing totem pole art works currently on display in national public parks, museums and in historical reference material. Most of the images are presented individually, not in their original totem pole form so children may mix and match to create their own stories and legends.
In addition to the authentic representations, there are many whimsical designs of commonly known birds, insects an
Wild animals designed using totem artistic styles as a guide. The whimsical designs are clearly identified as such to avoid any confusion or misconceptions during the learning process. Many cultures have totem like statues and icons but the purposes for these carved poles are different than with the Pacific Northwest poles. Polynesian statues are generally referred to as tikis. Other cultures such as the Zuni and Navajo, Pueblo people also have the Skin Walkers Legend, which are people who are believed to have the ability to transform into animal form.
Totem pole traditions include historic stories about member of clans and families and adventures of the family. For more about indigenous American designs and craft kits & supplies and information visit the Totem Pole resources page for some great, educational web sites.
These patterns don't require anyone to have any specialized craft kits or supplies on hand other than paper and crayons at minimum, but of course all patterns can be applied to hobby crafts such as skill saw carving, paper maché or needlepoint, to name a few possible suggestions.Print the designs onto shrink art paper to make beautiful eye-catching stunning and colorful sun catchers for the windows or cute additions for charm bracelets and necklaces. Save the images to your computer and pre color the images to print onto window decal, magnet sheets and iron-on transfer "paper" or material which is available at any office supply store. Children will enjoy decorating the windows of the home or car with easily removable and transparent window decals. Make Thunderbird and Grizzly Bear and other character magnet totem tokens for children to trade and share.