The Significance of the Totem Pole
Totem is a native American Word for a natural object serving as the emblem of a family or group, and passed from one generation to the next. carved from mature cedar trees by the native people of the Northwest, full-size totem poles were raised to represent a family clan, tis kinship system, its dignity, its accomplishments, its prestige, its adventures, its stories, its rights and prerogatives. The taller the totem, teh more abundant the can was thought to be.
This totem pole, lovingly carved and donated by Nona and Max Meinen, was carved over a period of 1.5 years from a cedar tree which was inadvertently felled by the gas company who had the right to place a gas pipeline across their property.
The First Phratry: The Thunderbird
The first phratry is of a thunderbird, which was believed by the Native Americans to be Grand Lord of the Sky Realm. It is always very prominent, done in very bright colors, and had large and wide outstretched wings. This means sending out love to all people who pass, and particularly to those in our church community.
The Second Phratry: The Beaver
The next phratry is a beaver, and was used because of his industriousness. Some Native Americans believe that, if provoked, beaver might dig underground tunnels that could cause earthquakes and landslides.
The Third Phratry: The Raven
Next in line is the raven, Native Americans quite often used raven because they believe he could turn darkness into light. Raven was also thought to be powerful, ever curious, deviant, compulsive, but at the same time likeable.
The Fourth Phratry: The Bear
Connected to raven, is the bear. Bear is usually at the base of a totem because of his strength. Some Native Americans also believe he had the power to make fire with wet sticks (Bear wood). Bear is holding in his arms a salmon. Of course, in the Northwest it is common for bears to catch and eat salmon. fish were also known for their agility and dexterity.
Man and Nona comment:
“To us, the totem pole, because the phratries are all connected, reminds us of the Unity principle, that we are all connected! It was our pleasure to carve this meaningful totem pole for our church garden, and it is our hope that it will remain for generations to come as a beacon for love and light and as a reminder of the native people who occupied this land before us.”
Nona and Max Meinen
September 21, 2008
The totem pole is located in the Peace Garden next to the labyrinth.
Some of the markings on the pole and they eyes of the animals are done in Haida style; the ideas of the phratries were take from a book “How to Carve and Paint Totem Poles” by Paul N. Luvera, Sr.