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Earth realm characters include animals such as bears, beavers and wolves, who walk on land. In this section are a mixture of creatures that actually appear on authentic totem poles and whimsical creatures just for fun.
Magical animal creatures can transform themselves into human form or appear as any other creature, such as a human wearing a bearskin cloak or wolf skin. Some of these magical beings can travel between realms to visit or create havoc in other realms. Many earth realm animal creatures prefer to live in human form. It is believed these creatures behave as though they are actual people who love, marry, have children and basically become part of the human community. We mere mortals can never see the past the ruse, however, and can only see these creatures as they really are, ordinary bears, wolves etc.
Each group of animal in the earth realm has it's own special quirk: wolves or Ghost People are considered to be great drummers, Beavers hate humans and are always playing mean tricks, and frogs often befriend certain Underwater realm creatures.
There are only three kingdoms in totem pole folklore:
Animals, especially bears and wolves, play a big part in totem pole stories and creation. The animals in this section are a mixture of creatures that actually appear on authentic totem poles and whimsical creatures just for fun.
Mythological meanings are commonly attributed to the birds, fish, animals, people and other mythological creatures used in Western tribal arts. Meanings may differ between tribes.
|Bear Bear and Grizzly Bear: Very common in stories and legends. Bears must not be insulted or cursed. Similar in appearance to wolves but with large nostrils and paws, sharp fangs, high forehead and frequently a protruding tongue. Spiritual attributes include ferocity, strength, humility, motherhood, teaching. Bears can transform into lumbering human form and male bears like to marry human princesses. Twin children of bears quickly grow into adult form. Bears can make fire out of wet sticks (or bear wood) and cause much trouble in relationships with humans. Bear Cubs are commonly featured in West Coast traditions.||Beaver:Easily recognized by a large flat tail and two large front teeth. They are usually shown eating wooden sticks. Their upturned tails are a symbol of wealth. Beavers are frequently associated with Eagles. The beaver is a creative, artistic and determined creature who can construct fine arrows . Beavers are also vengeful creatures who hate humans. Never say anything bad about the beaver. A provoked beaver will dig tunnels under villages and cause earthquakes and landslides.|
|Copper or Hiatsk:a Northwest Coastal symbol for wealth, power and prestige. To give the gift of a Copper is considered a sign of great respect and honor.||Cougar:Spiritual attributes include power, leadership and responsibility for life.|
|Cow:Spiritual attributes include motherhood, nourishment and fertility.||Coyote:Spiritual attributes include the ability to help you recognize your mistakes.|
|Deer:Spiritual attributes include gentleness, kindness and compassion.||Dirty Skin/Strong Man:Spiritual attributes include super human strength. Frequently featured splitting sea monsters apart with his bare hands|
|Dzunkwa or Tsonoqua, Wild Woman or Cannibal woman:The giantess of the forest. She is portrayed with pursed lips and squinted eyes designed to entice or lure victims into her trap. An Earth Realm Goddess whose spiritual attributes include eternal life and the ability to transform into clouds of mosquitos when burned in fire. Dzunkwa owns valuable treasures that humans like to steal; smells awful; collects children who often escape because she is so dull-witted. Parents warn their children, "be careful or Tsonoqua will get you!"||Frog:Spiritual attributes include spring, new life, communicator and stability. The frog is a misunderstood and underestimated creature but also a symbol of wealth. Frogs are friends with Copper Woman and can survive volcanic eruptions. Never insult a frog.|
|Horse:Spiritual attributes include communicate with other realms and can carry messages.||Human:Can be family members, chiefs, wives, children, etc. women frequently are distinguished by a labret in their lower lip.|
|Mouse:Spiritual attributes include ability to notice the little things in life||PeopleThe totem pole carvings tell the stories of the people who own the totem pole. Individuals can be family members, chiefs, wives, children, etc. People play a primary part in totem pole stories and creation. Totem poles tell the life stories and history of the people who own the poles. Most of the people in this section actually appear on authentic totem poles with a few whimsical ones just for fun.|
|People: Babies:Usually depicted beneath an adult or being held by an adult.||People: Fisherman:Depicted as a fish or man holding a fish|
|People: Watchman:Is the totem pole figure with the very tall hat that keeps watch for enemies.||Mountain Goat:Spiritual attributes include nobility. The goat has two sharp horns, cleft hooves (two toes). When the Mountain Goat is shown with only one horn it is meant to be a mythological spirit.|
|People: Whaler:a whaler is human that hunts whales and is portrayed as figure holding a spear or harpoon.||Snakes or serpent:Usually portrayed as a two headed mythological being called Siskiutl. Spiritual attributes include peace and friendship. Snakes can shed their skin so they are believed to have the ability to help shed problems in the same fashion.|
|Spider:Spiritual attributes include creativity. Spiders weave webs so they are also thought to be weavers of fate.||Squirrel:Is believed to be able to plan ahead and anticipate future needs. This myth probably came about because squirrels store food for winter.|
|Toads:Are usually carved realistically and are believed to be able to protect a totem pole from wood rot.||Turtle:Pays attention to earthly things and keeps its feet on the ground.|
|Weasel:Includes ermine, mink and ferret. Spiritual attributes include the ability to encourages us to develop our sense of inner being.||Wolf:Spiritual attributes include intelligence, leadership. Wolves are portrayed very similar in appearance with bears with sharp teeth and high forehead but have long sharp muzzles and elevated snouts. Wolves are able to heal human sickness but this healing is costly so they generally avoid human contact. Wolf cubs are popular in West Coast mythology.|