TOTEMS (Historic Information)

Totems from Seattle to Valdez, Chief Totems, Potlatch Totems. Tribe Totems, Grave Totems, Totems for sale, of slate, of bone of wood, of ivory woven into baskets, and blankets, for two cents up to two hundred dollars each.

Like the canoes and dogs, they are almost as numerous as the natives, and as illy kept.

Many lie on the earth, rotting records are they, some carved two. three hundred years ago. Others, yet standing, have but dim traces of the bright paints which once made them look like the wise, silly, courageous, sacred, ludicrous, stern or friendly faces of men, or of birds, animals, fishes and devils.

In (hose days they marked lone cabins, deserted graves, also thriving villages and homes of an undisturbed race. Now they lie rotting and hidden as they fall like forest trees. None of the old ones are preserved, none ever repainted, no new ones made, except for commercial purposes.

Neither is a "Siwash" born in these times who will replace the ancestor of totemic days. "The young man works in the mill and cannery or is devoted to idleness, hardly able to speak in the language of his father and mother. But few native dwellings show the mythological totem faces of old, fewer are occupied at all. I he canoes, blankets mittens, etc., are more often of the commercial kind from the store, containing no badge of (he tribe or clan, nor fancy needlework of the squaws, as of old.

Back to Table of Contents