The Story Pole

The author of the article concentrates on the history and significance of the Story Pole in Washington Capitol, representing the history of the Native American tribes in Washington State. The Story Pole’s idea of creation belonged to Governor Ronald Hartley, who allowed a representative of the Snohomish tribe, Chief William Shelton, to conduct the process of carving on the 85-foot cedar tree. The significance of the Story Pole was evaluated differently depending on the approach of the person. Governor Hartley initiated the process of the Story pole creation to make it a symbol of peace that commenced between the Native Americans and white settlers after signing the 1854 treaties. Chief Shelton realized that it would succeed to a higher level, as he was about to create a Story Pole, showing the cultural values of his people.

The peculiarity of the Story Pole is in using of the carved figures of the animals along its entire length. All twenty-one animals were depicted in different positions, and carried different meanings, each of them teaching a lesson: “Rabbits showed courage in venturing into the world with their families despite their fears, while the quiet call of the loon taught children to be humble with their words.” Shelton and other artists who finished the Story Pole did their best to help students learn the most about the Snohomish community’s culture.

Sheldon clearly understood the difference between the Story Pole and the Totem Pole that are still often commonly confused and juxtaposed.  The difference between them is obvious, as the Totem Pole is a representation of the history of a single family, collected on a pole, carved with animals. The purpose of the Story Pole is teaching the children, explaining them the meaning of the “community responsibility” and guiding them on the cultural aspects of the tribe, revealed through the animals. Shelton’s decision was totally justified, as he revealed the history of his people through the animals on the Story Pole, not only of a single family

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