The Meaning of the Totem Figures & Symbols

The indigenous traditions are rich in symbolism and wisdom on the west coast. Their teachings, traditions and lore are handed down through each generation. Each and every symbol

represents spiritual values as well as human traits. For example, a totem pole tells a story and your personal totem combines to tell the world who you are and what you believe.

Major Symbols or Totem Figures 


The majestic Eagle is strength and vision. The Eagle symbolizes power and prestige. It protects the spirit and the body, representing health and wholeness of being. It signifies the person who rises above the petty details of daily life to take in the big picture.  


The bear denotes strength and health. Always found at the base of totem poles, the bear represents the fulfillment of bodily needs and that the flesh is the house of the spirit. It signifies vitality and courage. The bear is always respected and treated as ah high ranking guest.


The beaver signifies community and sharing. It represents the acceptance that all may contribute to building the common good. It signifies good neighbors and strong families.


The frog symbolizes success coupled with humility. It represents the bounty of both the world and the spirit but counsels the receiver of the Creator's gifts not to swell up with pride, for then all the treasures disappear. It signifies modesty and virtue. It is a powerful spirit that brings good fortune.


The Raven is wisdom and understanding, and it represents the complexity of nature and the subtlety of truth. It reminds us that each of us sees a slightly different world and that the wise know that things are not always as they seem. The Raven rescued the sun and placed it in the sky so that the world would have light. The Raven also gave mankind the moon, stars and also made salmon available.


The Moon watches over us and is the protector and guardian of Earth. Moon has the ability to change our moods. 


The Life source, the provider of food for all animals and humans.  Treated with high regard, the salmon is symbol of immortality and wealth.  The great abundance of the salmon allowed the culture of the Northwest Coast to flourish. It reminds us that perseverance wins through in the end and that it is noble to sacrifice for the young.  

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