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American Indian Fetishes & Totems

One of the most iconic creations of American Indian cultures is that of the totem pole. From monumental installations to smaller scale decorative versions, the totem pole showcases the carving skill and cultural impact of American Indian art. They began as an artistic tradition of the Pacific Northwest tribes as a means of visual story telling.

Each pole was a means to relay a narrative, and its composition, similar to a poem, allowed for the harmonious combination of different characters, including humans and animals. These vibrant characters were typically complemented with rich color and patterning, exhibiting the finesse of American Indian wood carvers in conveying these creatures. While the characters included in a totem’s motif might be recognizable, the full story intended to be shared was only known by the creator, which was then passed down generation by generation.

While totems can refer to universal themes, there is a secret depth imbued in each design that ties back to a family’s or a tribe’s experiences. Even without this insider knowledge, though, totem poles today are recognized universally as brilliant examples of artistry.


Quick Facts

  • Most original totem poles are carved from redwood and, aside from souvenir size versions, range in height from 4 to over 75 feet
  • The colors on authentic totem poles are typically derived from natural sources. Ground minerals added various colors, and they were suspended in an oily mixture conjured from ground salmon eggs
  • The colors as well all hold symbolic connotations. White, for example, can refer to purity or death, while black references power or control

Recommended Items at Auction

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Northwest Coast Haida Indian argillite totem pole
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Northwest Coast Haida Indian argillite totem pole
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$3305 Bids
Group of carved Zuni Indian fetish animals
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Group of carved Zuni Indian fetish animals
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $300
$1003 Bids
Haida Alaskan Indian argillite carved totem pole
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Haida Alaskan Indian argillite carved totem pole
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $300
$1102 Bids
Henry Young, a carved argillite totem pole, 10 1/8 x 2 1/2 x 3 1/8 in. (25.7 x 6.3 x 7.9 cm)
Oct 27, 9:00 AM PDT
Henry Young, a carved argillite totem pole, 10 1/8 x 2 1/2 x 3 1/8 in. (25.7 x 6.3 x 7.9 cm)
by Maynards Fine Art & Antiques
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$7001 Bid
Native American Indian horse fetish dance stick
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Native American Indian horse fetish dance stick
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$401 Bid
Pacific Northwest Coast totem pole items
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Pacific Northwest Coast totem pole items
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$401 Bid
Two Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem poles
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Two Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem poles
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$401 Bid
Two Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem poles
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Two Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem poles
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $300
$1001 Bid
A Carved Timber Totem Figure,
Nov 01, 6:00 PM AEDT
A Carved Timber Totem Figure,
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD40- AUD80
AUD201 Bid
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $120- $160
$601 Bid
Antique Vanuatu Stone, Spider Web and Fiber Amulet Fetish
Nov 14, 10:00 AM EST
Antique Vanuatu Stone, Spider Web and Fiber Amulet Fetish
by Material Culture
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$5000 Bids
VINTAGE ENAMEL TOTEM POLE PIN
Nov 01, 12:30 PM EDT
VINTAGE ENAMEL TOTEM POLE PIN
by Museum of Culture and Arts, Inc
Est: $70- $280
$100 Bids
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Alaskan Totem Collection (4) [139350]
Oct 30, 8:00 AM PDT
Alaskan Totem Collection (4) [139350]
by Holabird Western Americana
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Two carved stone bears fetishes
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Two carved stone bears fetishes
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $60- $80
$300 Bids
Alaskan Inuit Indian miniature totem pole
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Alaskan Inuit Indian miniature totem pole
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Native American Indian redwood raven totem figure
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Native American Indian redwood raven totem figure
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $120- $160
$600 Bids
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian carved totem pole
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian carved totem pole
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $120- $160
$600 Bids
Three Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem poles
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Three Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem poles
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $120- $160
$600 Bids
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $120- $160
$600 Bids
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $160- $220
$800 Bids
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
Oct 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Pacific Northwest Coast Indian totem pole
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$400 Bids
Vintage Native American Totem Pole Souvenir
Oct 29, 5:00 PM EDT
Vintage Native American Totem Pole Souvenir
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$50 Bids

Sellers Who Sell American Indian Fetishes & Totems


Pook & Pook, Inc.

Pook & Pook, Inc.

Holabird Western Americana

Holabird Western Americana

Hindman

Hindman

Maynards Fine Art & Antiques

Maynards Fine Art & Antiques