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

By Pauline Hillaire; Gregory P. Fields | Go to book overview

Introduction

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).

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