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Totemism in Native American Culture

You have probably seen a totem pole somewhere before, such as on the television or online. It is actually from the belief known as Totemism. Totemism was all about some people’s kinship to a totem that they believe in together. The Ojibwa word odoodem is where the word totem comes from initially. The original word’s meaning is “his kinship group”, which is what signifies a relationship by blood. Totemism was all about having an animate being or a natural object, like any animal, or a tribe, clan, or family emblem. In Totemism, totems are used as a system that a tribe organized themselves with. The group would have a totem that would be said to be spiritually related to them, so they shouldn’t hunt them.

Totemism in Native American Culture
Totemism in Native American Culture

How Family Connections Work In Totemism

A family, tribe, or clan would adopt a totem. The totem is a significant religious object that holds great importance to that group. They would usually select a totem that is an animal, such as a bird. The totem has a high significance to the tribe, which makes it so that they’re forbidden to eat, hunt, or kill whatever their totem may be. Members of the tribe are forbidden to marry each other since the totem connects the tribe members to the same family.

How Religious Beliefs Work in Totemism

Families, groups, or clans that are practitioners of Totemism have the belief that they can receive blessings and protection from their totem. The groups will be dedicated to what they believe in, which is why they have ceremonies and rituals that are meant to honour and celebrate their totem. The name “Totemism” is used to describe the traits of the religion and organization in their society among various kinds of people. Totemism applies to a few tribes of Native Americans that you can find in North America’s Pacific Northwest Coast. You will see the term Totemism used when people refer to hunter-gatherer groups. The Pacific Northwest Coast’s indigenous people will carve vertical logs into totem poles as a way to practice Totemism.

Native American Indians That Practice Totemism

Six tribes followed Totemism, and they carved upright logs and painted them into what they call Totem Poles. The six tribes that followed Totemism and its beliefs were called Chinook, Tsimshian, Bella Coola, Haida, and Tlingit. The tribes would put up totem poles right in front of their homes to show their family’s social rank and ancestry. The totem poles would have figures carved into them that represented their tribe’s lineage and mythology, which would usually be an animal spirit. The pictures that are cut in the totem poles would show a family legend or crest in a way that’s relevant to the beliefs.

Totem Poles And Totemism

The sole purpose of Totemism wasn’t only for Totemism. It wasn’t only worshipped by those who followed Totemism. They had numbers of uses to different people. It was primarily used to remember and memorialize special events or specific people. Carving specialists were the ones who cut authentic totem poles, and they had to follow the old rules of symbols, legends, stories, and family crests. Ceremonies happened after a totem pole was created and put up.

Totem Poles And Totemism
Totem Poles And Totemism

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