Thursday, September 9, 2010

Indian Totem Poles and Coast Salish Gateways

The Indian Totem Poles of Brockton Point and Coast Salish Gateways are messengers of Vancouver's past.

Indian Totem Poles, Stanley Park, Vancouver

Coast Salish Gateway, Stanley Park, VancouverThe Indian Village in Stanley Park was reconstructed in 1920 in area used  for village sites by First Nations people: as a reminder of the great occupants existing before the European settlers came on this fields.  Each of these monumental sculptures tell a story from various areas of British Columbia, being somehow a combination between real and mythical in indian history. Many symbols from real life with magnificent details were used in their creation to illustrate stories or recount legends: the eagle as a symbol of the air, the thunderbird a symbol of power, strength and nobility, the whale as a symbol of the ocean, the frog as a link between land and the ocean, and the wolf as a symbol of the land.

The Totems of Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver

Some of the original older poles (as Skedans Mortuary Pole and Thunderbird House Post)   were preserved to BC's museums and have been replaced by replicas.
The total number of totems at Brockton Point is now nine, the last one being added in 2009.

Since 2008 were installed also  three carved gateways by Coast Salish artist Susan Point to welcome visitors to the park.

The Coast Salish Gateway of Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver

These portals were carved of red cedar and constructed to represent the traditional slant-roof style of Coast Salish architecture with carved welcome figures in the doorways.

The plaque that give general information about the NW Coastal Park art reads as follows:
Indian Totem Poles plaque of Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver"    The totem was the British Columbia Indians' "coat of arms". Totem poles are unique to the Northwest Coast of B.C. and lower Alaska. They were carved from Western red cedar and each carving tells of a real or mythical event. They were not idols, nor were they worshipped. Each carving on each pole has a meaning. The eagle represents the kingdom of the air, the whale, the lordship of the sea, the wolf, the genius of the land, and the frog, the transitional link between land and sea."


 Oscar Maltipi Pole, Stanley Park, Vancouver1. Oscar Maltipi Pole : Killer Whale with Thunderbird on top
The following text is from plaques at the totem pole display in Vancouver's Stanley Park:
"    First Nations origin stories tell of the animals and supernatural beings who helped found family lineages. These stories are celebrated in songs, dances and totem pole carvings. Kwakwaka'wakw artist Ocsar Maltipi carved this pole in 1968. Originally from Turnour Island, Maltipi trained at the Royal B.C. Museum under artist and teacher, Henry Hunt."

Beaver Crest Pole, Stanley Park, Vancouver
2. Beaver Crest Pole:
The following text is from plaque at the totem pole display:
"Carved in 1987 by Nisga'a artist Norman Tait along with his son Isaac, brother Robert, and nephew Ron Telek. The pole depicts how the Tait family's Eagle clan adopted the beaver as their crest and how the eagle and raven met and shared the sky"
"Once five brothers went to hunt beaver skins for a feast. The youngest brother helped the beavers escape and followed them to their lodge. He watched as they took off their beaver cloaks to reveal human forms and tell of the death and destruction of their chief. He watched their songs and dances, then returned home to report what he had seen. The brother performed the dances of the beaver people at a feast and raised a pole called Big Beaver. It was at this time that the Eagle Chief met and shared the skies with the Raven, which is another story."

Chief Wakas Pole, Stanley Park, Vancouver3. Chief Wakas Pole: Raven, Bear, Huxwhukw: a mythical bird; Wise one; Wolf; Killer whale; Thunderbird
The following text is from plaque at the totem pole display:
"In Kwarwaka'wakw ceremonies carved staffs called talking sticks are held by people making important speeches on behalf of the chief. This Pole represents the  talking stick and characters in an Owikeno story belonging to Chief Wakas. The original pole was raised in front of the Chief Wakas house in Alert Bay in 1890. The raven's beak opened to form a ceremonial entrance to the house, while the raven's body was painted on the house front. Nimpkish artist Doug Cranmer, who has inherited Chief Wakas' crests, carved this new pole in 1987 "      
SKY Chief Pole, Stanley Park, Vancouver4. Sky Chief Pole: Man of Knowledge; Wolf, Lightning-snake; Whale; Thunderbird, Kingfiisher, Sky Chief holding moon. 
The following text is from plaque at the totem pole display: 
"Hesquiat artist Tim Paul and Dididaht artist Art Thompson carved this pole in 1988 to represents important characters in Nuu-chah-nulth history" 
Kakaso'Las Pole, Stanley Park, Vancouver 
5. Kakaso-Las Pole: Raven, Dzunukwa a giantess; Bak'was wild man of the woods; Frog, Man; Sea-bear holding a killer-whale; Thunderbird.
The following text is from plaque at the totem pole display:
   Kwakwaka'Wakw carver Elien Neel and her uncle Mungo Martin were among the first artists to achieve wide recognition for their totem poles commissioned by museums, cities and art collectors. Neel was also the first woman to become a Northwest Coast carver. This pole was completed in 1955 for Woodward's department store.
    In memory of Neel's pioneering role in reaching an international audience through her art, the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology has loaned this pole to Stanley Park.

Thunderbird House Post, Stanley Park, Vancouver6. Thunderbird House Post:  Grizzly Bear holding a human; Thunderbird
The following text is from plaque at the totem pole display:
"Carved House Posts are used in traditional First Nations cedar houses to support the huge roof beams.
This pole is a replica of a of a house post carved by Kwakwaka'Wakw artist Charlie James in the early 1900s. Tony Hunt carved this replica in 1987 to replace the older pole now in the Vancouver Museum. James exerimented with colours and techniques creating a bold new style that has influenced generations of artists including his step-son Mungo Martin and grand -daughter Ellen Neel. A pole by Ellen Neel stands to the left".

Ga'akstalas Pole, Stanley Park, Vancouver7. GA'AKSTALAS: Dzunukwa the giantess; Grizzly bear over the man's head; Raven; Killer whale; Siwidi; Sisiyutl double-headed serpent; Red Cedar -bark man with canoe; Quolus legendary bird.
The following text is from plaque at the totem pole display:
" Carved by Wayne Alfred and Beau Dick in 1991, is based on a design by Russell Smith. The pole depicts many important figures in Kwakwaka'Wakw culture. Red Cedar-bark Man is an ancestor who survived the great flood and gave the people the first canoe. The hero Siwidi, shown riding a killer whale was taken under the sea to the home of the sea-world's chief and brought back the right to use all of the sea-kingdom masks. The giantess dzunukwa sits at the base of the pole, symbolizing her central role in bringing magic and wealth to her people. "

8. Chief Skedans Mortuary Pole:
Whale; Grizzly Bear; Mountain goat; Moon: a chief's crest.
 Chief Skedans Mortuary Pole, Stanley Park, VancouverThe following text is from plaque at the totem pole display:
"An older version of this pole was raised in the Haida village of Skidegate about 1870. It honours the Raven Chief of Skedans and depitcts the chief's hereditary crests. The two tiny figures in the bear's ears are the chief's daughter and son-in-law who erected the pole and gave a potlatch for the chief's memorial 
2009 - New unpainted Totem Pole, Stanley Park, VancouverThe rectangular board at the top of the original pole covered a cavity that held the chief's remains. Haida artist Bill Reid with assistant Werner True, carved this new pole in 1964. Don Yeomans recarved the top moon face in 1998. "

9. Since 2009 a new unpainted totem pole carved by Robert Yelton of the Squamish Nation was added, as a tribute to his mother, Rose, who was one of the last residents of Stanley Park, and now the total number of totems at Brockton Point is nine.

Getting there by car  take the right turn just as you enter the Stanley Park off Georgia Street. There is a parking lot nearby and various parking areas around the park.

View Indian Totem Poles of Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver in a larger map

See my other article about Totem poles, here: "Capilano Suspention Bridge Totem poles"

1 comment:

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