Thursday, December 6, 2012

Alert's Amazing Totems

 As I traveled north up Vancouver Island, I stopped at every totem pole I came across, but seeing this particular group at Alert Bay moved me like no other.   This group of mortuary and memorial totem poles made me realize how integral this art form is to the lives of the First Nation people.  We were not allowed to walk among them--only to view them from the street.

It struck me how they represent the cycle of life.  A family commissions a totem pole and it is erected during a ceremony.  The totems are made out of cedar and then painted, but as you can see from the above photos, the paint eventually fades, the wood decays, and the pole topples over.  This is all a part of nature.  If the family does not remove the pole, it is simply allowed to stay.

Another group of totem poles in front of the U'mista Center were unique and weathered and put up during potlatch ceremonies.  I left this beautiful island with a deeper understanding and appreciation of their art and culture.

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