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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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RUBEN NAJERA ZUNI CARVED ANTLER HERON FETISH
Jun 09, 9:00 AM MST
RUBEN NAJERA ZUNI CARVED ANTLER HERON FETISH
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$555 Bids
Northwest Coast Haida Totem
May 31, 12:00 PM EDT
Northwest Coast Haida Totem
by Cottone Auctions
Est: $700- $1,000
$4255 Bids
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Group of 3 Zuni Fetishes
May 31, 12:00 PM MST
Group of 3 Zuni Fetishes
by Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery & Auction
Est: $150- $350
$604 Bids
TOTEM POLE
Jun 09, 10:30 AM EDT
TOTEM POLE
by Farrin's country Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$503 Bids
(8) NATIVE AMERICAN & SOUTHWEST HARDSTONE, SHELL & RESIN FETISHES
Jun 08, 10:00 AM CDT
(8) NATIVE AMERICAN & SOUTHWEST HARDSTONE, SHELL & RESIN FETISHES
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $60- $80
$401 Bid
Turtle Shaped Quillwork Umbilical Fetish
May 31, 12:00 PM EDT
Turtle Shaped Quillwork Umbilical Fetish
by Cottone Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
Warrior Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture
Jun 06, 9:00 PM EDT
Warrior Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $600- $800
$4100 Bids
Signed Original Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture - 14" x 7"
Jun 07, 9:00 PM EDT
Signed Original Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture - 14" x 7"
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $600- $900
$3500 Bids
Pair of Carved Hawaiian Tiki Totems
Jun 08, 2:00 PM EDT
Pair of Carved Hawaiian Tiki Totems
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $40- $80
$200 Bids
Signed Original Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture - 14" x 7"
Jun 17, 9:00 PM EDT
Signed Original Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture - 14" x 7"
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $600- $900
$3500 Bids
Antique Plains Indian Beaded Turtle Fetish
Jun 01, 9:00 AM EDT
Antique Plains Indian Beaded Turtle Fetish
by Searchlight / Saucon Valley Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Turtle Shaped Navel Amulet or Umbilical Fetish
May 31, 12:00 PM EDT
Turtle Shaped Navel Amulet or Umbilical Fetish
by Cottone Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
Three Zuni & Diné carved stone fetish animal figures
Jun 04, 10:00 AM PDT
Three Zuni & Diné carved stone fetish animal figures
by John Moran Auctioneers
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
A group of Zuni carved stone fetish animal figures
Jun 04, 10:00 AM PDT
A group of Zuni carved stone fetish animal figures
by John Moran Auctioneers
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
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First Nations Carved Wood Totem Pole, Whale Song, Signed
Jun 09, 2:00 PM EDT
First Nations Carved Wood Totem Pole, Whale Song, Signed
by Lion and Unicorn
Est: $10- $200
$100 Bids
2 Native American Walrus Ivory & Bone Totem Poles
May 31, 8:00 AM MDT
2 Native American Walrus Ivory & Bone Totem Poles
by Artemis Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
37 Native American Bone & Walrus Ivory Totem Poles
May 31, 8:00 AM MDT
37 Native American Bone & Walrus Ivory Totem Poles
by Artemis Gallery
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5000 Bids
7 Collectible Canadian Resin Totem Poles & Boxes
May 31, 8:00 AM MDT
7 Collectible Canadian Resin Totem Poles & Boxes
by Artemis Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Warrior Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture
Jun 24, 9:00 PM EDT
Warrior Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $650- $850
$4500 Bids
Signed Original Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture - 14" x 7"
Jun 24, 9:00 PM EDT
Signed Original Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture - 14" x 7"
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $600- $900
$3500 Bids
Warrior Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture
Jun 24, 9:00 PM EDT
Warrior Totem Pole Bronze Sculpture
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $650- $850
$4500 Bids
Charlie James (Yakuglas) (1867-1938), MODEL TOTEM POLE, CA. 1915
May 29, 7:00 PM EDT
Charlie James (Yakuglas) (1867-1938), MODEL TOTEM POLE, CA. 1915
by Waddington's
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$1,0000 Bids
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First Nations Tlingit Carved Wood Totem Pole, Thunderbird
Jun 09, 2:00 PM EDT
First Nations Tlingit Carved Wood Totem Pole, Thunderbird
by Lion and Unicorn
Est: $10- $200
$100 Bids
Group of 5 Native American Hand Painted Totem Poles
Jun 08, 9:00 AM CDT
Group of 5 Native American Hand Painted Totem Poles
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$150 Bids

Sellers Who Sell American Indian Fetishes & Totems


Weatherham Estate Treasures

Weatherham Estate Treasures

Cottone Auctions

Cottone Auctions

Artemis Gallery

Artemis Gallery

John Moran Auctioneers

John Moran Auctioneers