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The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History (Hardback)
  • The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History (Hardback)

The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History (Hardback)

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Hardback 344 Pages
Published: 21/05/2010
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The Northwest Coast totem pole captivates the imagination. From the first descriptions of these tall carved monuments, totem poles have become central icons of the Northwest Coast region and symbols of its Native inhabitants. Although many of those who gaze at these carvings assume that they are ancient artifacts, the so-called totem pole is a relatively recent artistic development, one that has become immensely important to Northwest Coast people and has simultaneously gained a common place in popular culture from fashion to the funny pages.

The Totem Pole reconstructs the intercultural history of the art form in its myriad manifestations from the eighteenth century to the present. Aldona Jonaitis and Aaron Glass analyze the totem pole's continual transformation since Europeans first arrived on the scene, investigate its various functions in different contexts, and address the significant influence of colonialism on the proliferation and distribution of carved poles. The authors also describe their theories on the development of the art form: its spread from the Northwest Coast to world's fairs and global theme parks; its integration with the history of tourism and its transformation into a signifier of place; the role of governments, museums, and anthropologists in collecting and restoring poles; and the part that these carvings have continuously played in Native struggles for control of their cultures and their lands.

Short essays by scholars and artists, including Robert Davidson, Bill Holm, Richard Hunt, Nathan Jackson, Vickie Jensen, Andrea Laforet, Susan Point, Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Lyle Wilson, and Robin Wright, provide specific case studies of many of the topics discussed, directly illustrating the various relationships that people have with the totem pole.

Errata: http://www.washington.edu/uwpress/books/Jonaitis_errata_24.pdf

Publisher: University of Washington Press
ISBN: 9780295989624
Number of pages: 344
Weight: 1724 g
Dimensions: 279 x 216 x 30 mm


An essential work, one that will surely serve as a model for other explorations of material culture in contexts of interethnic encounter.

-- Francis Goicovich * Pacific Northwest Quarterly *

Jonaitis and Glass invigorate the history and analysis of Northwest Coast totem poles with a neomodernist discussion of how cultural interaction unfolds as a dialogue between groups.

-- Daniel Monteith * Alaska History *

This richly illustrated, highly accessible, and thoroughly researched volume has made an important contribution to the study of totem poles, Northwest Coast art and culture, museum studies, and the history of anthropology.

* American Anthropologist *

An informative, thought provoking, and beautifully illustrated collection of essays by art historian Aldona Jonaitis and anthropologist Aaron Glass. Not only does the book present solid scholarship, its contents clearly are the result of the authors' genuine affection for their subject matter.

* Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources *

Although there are a number of books on totem poles... this book stands alone in adding the influence of non-Native and non-Northwest Coast individuals to the development and use of totem poles as monuments and as icons. Valuable for an academic audience, the book is readily accessible to general readers, as most theoretical ideas are concisely and clearly discussed in footnotes. The variegated and constantly shifting uses and meanings of the totem pole icon are truly incredible. Highly recommended.

* Choice *

Words like seminal, definitive, and encyclopedic are bound to accrue to The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History.... Widely researched and richly illustrated, this big, beautiful book tells us why we find images of totem poles on everything from fridge magnets and Frisbees to back scratchers and Boy Scout badges.

* Georgia Straight *

The defining take on this fascinating subject.

* Art History Newsletter *

The Totem Pole is a visually rich, gracefully written cultural biography.

* The Book Monger *

Recommendation: For anybody interested in Native American art.

* Birdbooker Report *

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