Monumental wooden sculptures, popularly known as 'totems' or 'totem poles', are a feature of the long and complex art traditions of the First Nations peoples of the west coast. They are used in different ways in different regions of the coast, but are always held in high regard. These sculptures served as large welcome figures, commemorative sculptures, privilege and crest display, and honoured the dead. Contemporary First Nations celebrate important events with the commissioning of a pole by skilled artists. Pole raisings bring communities together in colourful ceremonies.
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