The totem pole—in all its power and beauty—is a distinctive and widely recognized form of traditional Northwest Coast Native art. Once nearly lost, this art form is alive and thriving today. In this unique book, Vickie Jensen collaborates with renowned Nisga’a artist Norman Tait and his crew of young carvers to document the actual process of bringing a log to life.
The intimate text and 125 photographs capture the charged atmosphere in which the pole is carved—the smell of fresh cedar chips, the long days and blistered hands, the camaraderie, the pride in solving problems, the ever-present awareness of tradition, the joy of creation.
Norman Tait teaches his apprentices that carving a pole requires more than time and labor, more than artistic and emotional commitment, more than a grasp of tools and techniques. The process invoves their cultural background and very being. The apprentices must make their own carving tools, design their regalia, and practice traditional songs, dances, and drumming. All these experiences culminate in the traditional ceremonies to celebrate the raising of the completed totem pole.
This book was originally published in hardcover as Where the People Gather: Carving a Totem Pole.