A Totem Pole History: The Work of Lummi Carver Joe Hillaire

A Totem Pole History: The Work of Lummi Carver Joe Hillaire

A Totem Pole History: The Work of Lummi Carver Joe Hillaire

A Totem Pole History: The Work of Lummi Carver Joe Hillaire


Joseph Hillaire (Lummi, 1894–1967) is recognized as one of the great Coast Salish artists, carvers, and tradition-bearers of the twentieth century. In A Totem Pole History, his daughter Pauline Hillaire, Scälla–Of the Killer Whale (b. 1929), who is herself a well-known cultural historian and conservator, tells the story of her father's life and the traditional and contemporary Lummi narratives that influenced his work.

A Totem Pole History contains seventy-six photographs, including Joe's most significant totem poles, many of which Pauline watched him carve. She conveys with great insight the stories, teachings, and history expressed by her father's totem poles. Eight contributors provide essays on Coast Salish art and carving, adding to the author's portrayal of Joe's philosophy of art in Salish life, particularly in the context of twentieth century intercultural relations.

This engaging volume provides an historical record to encourage Native artists and brings the work of a respected Salish carver to the attention of a broader audience.


Gregory P. Fields

The best-known totem poles are those of the northern Pacific Coast, that is, the totem poles of Alaska and northern British Columbia from tribes such as the Tlingit, Haida, and Kwakwaka’wakw (see map 1). However, south of these tribes, a number of Coast Salish tribes in Canada and Washington State also carve totem poles. Among American Coast Salish tribes, the tradition of totem pole carving is particularly strong at Lummi both historically and currently. the United States and Canada established a national border at the forty-ninth parallel with the Oregon Treaty of 1846. Before the arrival of Anglo-Europeans, the Lummi Tribe was a large tribe whose ancestral territory covered an expansive area of coastal northern Washington extending into southwestern British Columbia (see map 3). the Lummi Tribe is the northernmost American Coast Salish tribe, so it is not surprising that this Washington tribe, just twenty miles south of the border of British Columbia, is among the totem pole tribes of the Pacific Northwest (see map 2).

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.