Beginner's Guide

videos + essays

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The Chief Johnson Totem Pole
The Chief Johnson Totem Pole

Learn about the story of Fog Woman and Raven and the generations of this totem pole from the Tlingit

The story of the Oyster Man, a Tlingit totem pole
The story of the Oyster Man, a Tlingit totem pole

Learn the story behind this totem pole that no longer stands

Dorica Jackson, <em>Diving Whale Chilkat Robe</em>
Dorica Jackson, Diving Whale Chilkat Robe

Dorica Jackson spent 16 years weaving this robe with an abstract whale design and fringe that would animate the movements of a dancer

Northwest Coast Basketry—Woven Traditions
Northwest Coast Basketry—Woven Traditions

The American Museum of Natural History is updating, restoring, and conserving the historic Northwest Coast Hall, including more than 800 Northwest Coast collections pieces, in consultation with several Pacific Northwest Coast communities.

Haida potlatch pole
Haida potlatch pole

What is a potlatch? And how is it related to this totem pole?

Bentwood Boxes of the Northwest Coast peoples
Bentwood Boxes of the Northwest Coast peoples

The body of this box is made of one piece of wood carefully bent into its four sides

Tlingit mortuary and memorial totem poles
Tlingit mortuary and memorial totem poles

Learn about two types of totem poles from the Tlingit people of the Pacific Northwest Coast that memorialize individuals who have passed

Arctic clothing
Arctic clothing

In the Arctic, where temperatures are below freezing for most of the year, warm clothing is of great importance.

Proud Raven totem pole at Saxman Totem Park
Proud Raven totem pole at Saxman Totem Park

A totem pole records Tlingit claims to land in southeastern Alaska by acknowledging the first sighting of a white man, who happens to be based on the likeness of Abraham Lincoln.

Haida Totem Pole, from Old Kasaan
Haida Totem Pole, from Old Kasaan

A 19th-century totem pole from Old Kasaan village of the Haida helps us to understand the meaning and function of clan crests.

Clarissa Rizal, <em>Resilience Robe</em>
Clarissa Rizal, Resilience Robe

This prestigious garment follows a traditional design passed down through generations of Indigenous Alaskans.

Tsimshian shaman’s rattle
Tsimshian shaman’s rattle

This rattle was used in a healing ceremony by the Tsimshian

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