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Create a Totem Pole for a Monthly Project (or a week home with the kids)

Updated: Jan 13

After watching the film Haida Modern, featured at the online Legacy Film Festival on Aging, we can make with children or elders, or by ourselves, a totem pole. Related to totem poles are Tiki's, Hawaiian sculptures, inspired by the ancient Polynesian culture where people created relationships with their ancestors through the scultures.

Why Create a Totem Pole

In the Pacific Northwest, First Nations would construct Totem Poles to hold up the roof. They were decorated with images of animals, such as wolves eagle, or signs of their family, The designs would go down the pole, telling the history of their family. The images all had great meaning to them. Every totem pole tells a story. Source.

How To Make a Totem Pole

Here are a few YouTube instructions for making a Totem Pole:

Group Totem Pole

Totem poles can be a group project with student classroom. A group of elders can create a video of their totem pole construction and a classroom of students can create a video of their totem pole construction and its meaning. They can share their projects either on-site or virtually. Source. Other activities can evolve from the constuction of totem poles, such as making music with drums and other musical instruments and songs from the tradition of the culture.


Totem poles are a basis for storytelling about families, cultures, traditions, spiritual beliefs, nature. They provide a sense of place and meaning in people's lives. Viewing the film Haida Modern , a documentary featured film at the 2023 Legacy Film Festival on Aging, and learning about Visual Artist Robert Davidson's dedication to creating totem poles, since he was a child, can inspire the viewers to create their own totem poles, either in a group or by themselves. Good news: The Festival has been extended until January 22, 2023!

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