Long before their history was written, the Nisga'a and other people of North America used totem poles to teach about the past. It was important for children to learn their cultural history, all the way back to mythical times. Vickie Jensen takes us behind the scenes into the carving shed as she describes the various steps that go into carving and raising a totem pole. Photos.
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Grade 4-6?Beautiful photographs and a clearly written text combine to give readers a special experience. Introductory statements by Nisga'a artist Norman Tait and the author provide historical context for understanding the totem pole's function and significance. Readers then follow each step as Tait, carvers, and apprentices transform a 42-foot cedar log. The whole process is documented, beginning with preparing the log and ending with the ceremony in which the totem pole is raised, set, and named. Each step is detailed in terms of who does what, the tools used, and the significance of what is carved. The craftsmanship and artistry are clear in the black-and-white photos. The beauty of the completed object is awe inspiring. Aside from its informational value, this well-crafted book is important in that it imparts a sense of the vitality of a native Northwest culture and its connection to the past.?Melissa Gross, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 3^-6. Jensen followed master carver Norman Tait and his family through the creation of a massive doorway totem pole for the Native Education Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. Clear black-and-white photographs record the painstaking, three-month-long process of designing and carving the pole. But Jensen's fine photo-essay does more than merely document their work. She provides insights that will allow readers to understand the importance not only of preserving traditions and stories but also of training young people in the skills necessary to continue creating cultural history. She explains how artists design the poles, selecting figures that reflect a pole's purpose or a family's history and describes the traditional methods used to carve and raise a pole and the ceremonies the Nisga'a celebrate to dedicate it. This will be a fine addition to school and public library collections. Chris Sherman
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