Early last month I posted pictures of this totem pole that is located at the Jamestown Family Health Center in Sequim. I didn’t know the stories associated with the pole. I heard from a local, Betty, who informed me that the waiting room at the Health Center has informational brochures about the totem and I picked one up. Thank you, Betty! Here is more information about the “Healing Arts Totem Pole” taken from the brochure provided by the Tribe.
At the bottom of this 38-foot pole is a shaman or medicine man whose traditional role is to assure the health and prosperity of the community. He is seen as an intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds and his most important role is to cure the sick. A shaman derives his healing powers from “spirit helpers,” animal spirits who possess the secrets of life and death and who share these gifts with the shaman. The shaman’s paraphernalia, a rattle and a baton, a crown of mountain goat horns, and a “soul catcher” around his neck, aid him in moving into a trance state to do his healing work. Below the shaman is Frog who lives on both land and in the water and also has the transformational power to morph from a fishlike tadpole into a four-legged frog.
Above the shaman is Sculpin, a guide to aid the shaman in returning to the physical plane. Sculpin is a fish that can also grant certain powers. Above Sculpin is Land Otter. At home on land or in the water, Land Otter is considered a powerful supernatural assistant.
Above Land Otter is Octopus. Octopus is capable of transforming his color, shape, and texture and is considered a great ally when opposing evil spirits. Second from the top is Wolf, who helps to guide the shaman back to the secular world after his spirit world travels. And at the top is Mountain Goat. Mountain Goat lives between the terrestrial world and the sky world and travels ahead of the shaman to guard him against danger.
The S’Klallam brochure does not identify the carving style used for this totem except to note that their totems “represent some aspect of Northwest Native and/or Jamestown S’Klallam life.” The Tribe’s totems at their 7 Cedars Casino are done in a variety of Northwest cultural styles. This one at the Health Center looks Tlingit to me.