Totem Poles are large carvings, usually from Western Red Cedar trees, made by Indians who lived along the Pacific coast of North America. The intricate carvings, which often feature the likenesses of eagles, beavers, bears, and orcas, represent family clans, important events or people, and legends. Some totem poles were built to ridicule people who were in debt or who commited crime.
Although totem poles may have existed for hundreds of years, the earliest known totem pole is
thought to be slightly over 200 years old. Most last less than 100 years. Because of the rainy climate of the pacific northwest, the wooden totem poles decay quickly.
Today, individuals of native ancestry in the pacific northwest still make totem poles. The tallest totem pole in the world is thought to be located at Alert Bay, British Columbia. It is 173 feet tall.