Totem poles 6


There is a dance plaza at the S’Klallam Tribal Center where these two totem poles stand. They overlook Sequim Bay and are called the “Strong People House Posts.”  The S’Klallam people are known as “the Strong People” and this is an adaptation of the story the poles tell:

Faced with the task of lifting a particularly heavy house post the tribes of the area once gathered. One by one, groups from each tribe tried to heft the huge log and, one by one, they failed.

The S’Klallam people considered the problem. They rolled the long pole into the water of Sequim Bay. As the log began to float, their strongest men stooped in the water to put their shoulders underneath. Then they stood, and by their combined strength they lifted the pole from the water and carried it to its place. From that day, the S’Klallam have been known as “the Strong People.”

This is the back of the Dance Plaza poles. These poles commemorate the 1874 tribal actions in acquiring the Jamestown lands that I told you about yesterday.

Most of the information I have posted about all of the S’Klallam totem poles has been taken from a beautiful and interesting book entitled “Totem Poles of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe: The Art of Dale Faulstich” (available — where else? — on and also at some local Sequim outlets).  It contains many stories told by Tribal Elder and storyteller Elaine Grinnell and far more detail than I can share in my posts.

Tomorrow I’ll take you into the carving shed of the Tribe and show you a carving project.

6 thoughts on “Totem poles 6”

  1. Do you know what kind of trees they use to carve these beautiful Totem Poles? As with most thing made of wood the timbers used are no doubt dried and aged before carving is done. What type of paint is used to paint them to give them their beautiful color? So much time and effort goes into these pieces we are fortunate to have them displayed in our area to be seen and appreciated by everyone.

  2. Thanks, all, for taking the time to comment! Therese, the wood is Western Red Cedar. The logs are actually carved green because it’s easier for a carver to work. Once carved, it is preserved with two coats of clear sealer, then base coated with a neutral color paint. Paint colors are all traditional and the color palettes vary by culture. I don’t know what type of paint it is. Kibz, I will have links for ordering the Faulstich book on Wednesday.

  3. Hi Kay, I’m catching up with pictures and this totem pole series has been fantastic. Great pictures, but also very interesting to learn more about them from all the details you provided.

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