Totem poles are huge sculptures carved from large trees by the Native American people of the Pacific Northwest.
Since these totem poles are made form cedar wood, they eventually decay in the forest.
Therefore, there are very few example of poles carved before 1900 that still exist today.
These totems were first noticed and documented by European explorers in the 1800's.
Totem poles became very popular and early Americans and Europeans began to trade or buy these poles from the Native Americans.
Each totem pole has a unique meaning or purpose.
Some poles recount famous legends or stories.
While other poles might describe a family lineage.
Today a number of successful native artists carve totem poles for a living.