"This book is the printed experience of a totem pole coming to life"
- Norman Tait, carver
Nominated for the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize, BC Book Prizes
"Carvers seldom have their work documented in detail"
- Vickie Jensen, author

Our Books


By Vickie Jensen
Format: 175 Pages; 125 Black & White Photographs
Totem Pole Carving
ISBN: 978-0295983684
List Price: $22.95 USD/CDN + tax

TOTEM POLE CARVING is the first book to document the entire process of carving a totem pole. Through an intimate text and 125 black-and-white photographs, Vickie Jensen takes the reader inside the carving shed. It is a seldom-seen world of adzes and chainsaws, young apprentices with blistered hands, and one massive cedar log.

The reader stands alongside Nisga’a artist Norman Tait as he trains a crew of young carvers over a period of three months. He teaches them that creating such a massive cultural artifact involves time and labour, tools and techniques, artistic and emotional commitment. As the totem pole progresses, so does the crew’s cultural understanding as they make their own carving tools, design their regalia and practice traditional songs for the pole-raising ceremony.

TOTEM POLE CARVING gives the reader two equally rich stories - the step-by-step process of creating a magnificent 42-foot doorway pole for Vancouver’s Native Education Centre, but also the triumph of this young crew as they master the skills and traditions necessary to carve a totem pole.

Note that this title was originally published in hardcover as WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER: CARVING A TOTEM POLE.*