Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

Totem Poles of the North American Northwest Coast Indians, by Maryanne Kathleen Basti


Guide Entry to 85.06.01:

This unit is designed to teach students about another culture through the different approach of object analysis. The object analyzed is the totem pole; the culture introduced is that of the Northwest Coast Indian. As a first step in the life-long process of making meaning out of objects, students can relate easily to the totem pole because it is a concrete historical system in which each part clearly represents a specific, culturally well-known event. The main focus of this unit is to blend successfully material object study and analysis with the application of these techniques to our own culture. Employing the totem pole as a model, the students will use symbols they developed from their own culture to create “city” totem poles. The objective is to have them experience the pride in creation arising out of seeing their own ideas, thoughts, and efforts come together in the form of a substantial piece of art work.

(Recommended for Art classes, grades 6 through 12)

Key Words

Totem Poles Northwest Coast Indian West African Art Mythology

To Curriculum Unit

Contents of 1985 Volume VI | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

© 2014 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Terms of Use Contact YNHTI