Our Family Totem Pole ~ Part One - Eva Varga

February 26, 20084

Shortly after reading, Whale in the Sky, and making a large paper totem pole to represent the one in the book, we coincidentally came across an activity idea in local newspaper… choosing animals to represent each member of the family to make a Family Totem Pole. As we’ve been exploring the art of Northwest Coastal Indians alongside our Iditarod unit, I felt this was the perfect extension to our studies. One of the books we’ve most enjoyed is Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast by Hilary Stewart. We browsed through the book together and guessed what was depicted in the photos/sketches before we read the captions. We talked about the mediums the Native Americans would use in their artwork and what the animals symbolized to them. We talked about the animals we liked and which most represented each of us.

Beaver – The builder, a symbol of security and activity. Creative, Artistic and Determined. Me
Wolf – Symbolizes family, loyalty and endurance. Intelligence and Leadership. DH
Hummingbird – Symbolizes love, beauty, luck and is a joyful messenger. Sweetie
Otter – Trusting, inquisitive and bright; loyal friendship. Buddy

Sweetie and I then brainstormed the media we wanted to use. We wanted to create a totem pole that would become a family keepsake… not a paper craft that we’d likely toss in the near future. I suggested getting a small piece of wood to carve… she suggested carving on stone. As I’ve done some stone carving with my Dremel in the past for gifts, we decided to go this route. I had made several wall plaques for friends and family but had yet to create one for ourselves… this was the perfect opportunity.

I’ve stopped by a couple of local stone and landscape places but haven’t yet found the right piece. Ideally, we would like it to be rather narrow and long; maybe 2′ x 8″. This project is turning out to be more time consuming than I had anticipated. I will thereby post pictures of the final product when we’ve completed it. Stay Tuned! 😀


  • Sarah

    March 10, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Not sure how I missed this fun and beautiful project. I can’t wait to see the outcome of stone carving. I want to be in your family! FUN FUN FUN

  • Mom2Amara

    March 10, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    The totem pole turned out wonderfully! Are you going to keep it out on display?

  • Makita

    March 10, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    We’ll keep it up for awhile but it’s a little big and clumsy to keep up for too long. 🙂

  • School for Us

    March 26, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    What a neat talent you have! To be able to carve in stone!!! And, I love the idea of making a family totem pole. Can’t wait to see it when it’s done.

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