A Totem Pole History


A Totem Pole History

The Work of Lummi Carver Joe Hillaire

Pauline Hillaire
Edited by Gregory P. Fields

Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians Series

360 pages
76 photographs, 4 maps


December 2013


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eBook (EPUB)
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July 2022


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December 2013


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About the Book

Joseph Hillaire (Lummi, 1894–1967) is recognized as one of the great Coast Salish artists, carvers, and tradition-bearers of the twentieth century. In A Totem Pole History, his daughter Pauline Hillaire, Scälla–Of the Killer Whale, who is herself a well-known cultural historian and conservator, tells the story of her father’s life and the traditional and contemporary Lummi narratives that influenced his work.

A Totem Pole History contains seventy-six photographs, including Joe’s most significant totem poles, many of which Pauline watched him carve. She conveys with great insight the stories, teachings, and history expressed by her father’s totem poles. Eight contributors provide essays on Coast Salish art and carving, adding to the author’s portrayal of Joe’s philosophy of art in Salish life, particularly in the context of twentieth century intercultural relations.

This engaging volume provides an historical record to encourage Native artists and brings the work of a respected Salish carver to the attention of a broader audience.

Author Bio

Pauline Hillaire, Scälla–Of the Killer Whale (1929–2016), was a Lummi cultural historian, author, genealogist, artist, teacher, and conservator of Straits Salish knowledge and culture. She was the recipient of the 2013 Bess Lomax Hawes NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award. Gregory P. Fields is a professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He is the author of Religious Therapeutics.


"This book operates just like a totem pole—each essay is a face and each face has many meanings, and together, they combine to tell a tale." —Portland Book Review
"A must read for anyone who wants to understand totem poles using a Lummi perspective.""—N. J. Parezo, Choice

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
A Note on Lummi Terms
Nomination of Pauline Hillaire for the National Heritage Fellowship
Taqwš?blu Vi Hilbert
A Call to Carvers
Scälla, Pauline Hillaire
Gregory P. Fields
Scälla, Of the Killer Whale: A Brief Biography
Rebecca Chamberlain
Part One: Joe Hillaire
1. Carving
Pauline Hillaire 
2. Power of the Bear: Memories of My Father, Joe Hillaire
Pauline Hillaire
3. Kwul-kwul’tw, Spirit of the War Club: Religious Man, Renaissance Man
Gregory P. Fields
Part Two: Coast Salish Art and Carving
4. Straits Salish Sculpture
Bill Holm
5. Joseph Raymond Hillaire: Lummi Artist-Diplomat
Barbara Brotherton
6. Coast Salish Carving: Our Work Is Our Identity
Felix Solomon
7. I Look to the Old People: Reflections on Joe Hillaire and Carving
Scott Kadach’ aak’u Jensen
8. A Thin Red Line: Pigments and Paint Technology of the Northwest Coast
Melonie Ancheta
9. Maintaining Integrity: Totem Pole Conservation and the Restoration of the Centennial History Pole
Andrew Todd
10. Archetypes from Cedar: Myth and Coast Salish Story Poles
Gregory P. Fields
11. Artists Were the First Historians: Spiritual Significance of Coast Salish Carving
CHiXapkaid (Michael Pavel)
Part Three: Totem Poles of Joe Hillaire
12. Bellingham Centennial History Pole 
Pauline Hillaire
13. Schelangen Story Pole
Pauline Hillaire
14. Kobe-Seattle Sister Cities Friendship Pole
Pauline Hillaire
15. Land in the Sky Story Pole
Pauline Hillaire
16. Man in Transition Story Pole
Pauline Hillaire
17. T’Kope Kwiskwis Lodge Entrance Pole
Pauline Hillaire
18. Bronson Story Pole
From the Archives of Pauline Hillaire
19. Halibut Fisherman Story Pole 1
Pauline Hillaire
20. Halibut Fisherman Story Pole 2
Pauline Hillaire
21. Double-Headed Wolf Totem Pole
Pauline Hillaire
Part Four: Lummi Oral History and Tradition
22. Some Place-Names from Lummi History
From the Archives of Pauline Hillaire
23. Canoes
Pauline Hillaire
24. Longhouses of Long Ago
Pauline Hillaire
25. A Wedding in Lummi History
Plans for a Play by Joseph Hillaire
From the Archives of Pauline Hillaire
26. How the Lummi Came to Their Present Abode
Told by Joseph Hillaire
From the Archives of Pauline Hillaire
27. The Lummi at Treaty-Making Time 
A Play by Joseph Hillaire Performed by the Setting Sun Dancers
From the Archives of Pauline Hillaire
28. Tsats-mun-ton
A Legend Told by Pauline Hillaire
29. Four Generations of Medicine Men
A Legend Told by Pauline Hillaire
30. The Mink Family and the Raccoon Family
A Folktale Told by Pauline Hillaire
31. Stommish: Revival of the Water Festival
Pauline Hillaire
32. Signs of the Seasons
Pauline Hillaire
List of Contributors

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