How To Make A Totem Pole

Totem poles are wood carvings that were made by Native American tribes to symbolize mythical characters or to communicate the experiences of ancestors.

They are highly spiritual and symbolic objects and can be great fun to make and display in your home. They’re amazing art pieces, but creating a totem pole from wood is very hard work and can take many years to master.

How To Make A Totem Pole

Instead, this guide will teach you how to make your own homemade totem pole, so you can display it in your window to ward off evil beings (or neighbors). 

How To Make A Totem Pole

You can opt to use construction paper or clay to make your totem pole, but the easiest way to make one is with construction paper. Follow the steps below to create your very own Native American totem pole.

1. Wrap some construction paper around an empty toilet roll tube. This will make up the structure of your pole and support the decorations.

Choose the color of the construction paper to wrap around the empty toilet roll tube to make your totem pole more eye-catching. Make sure to use some cellotape or glue to make sure your construction paper stays firmly on the toilet roll tube. 

2. You can make a small totem pole by just using one empty toilet roll tube, or you can tape many toilet roll tubes together to make a much longer totem pole.

If using a single toilet roll tube, use your scissors to trim the excess construction paper. If you’d rather your totem pole wasn’t colorful, you don’t need to use any construction paper at all, you can just go ahead and decorate the empty toilet roll tube on it’s own. 

3. Draw your favourite animal face on the tope of the pole. It’s customary for totem poles to be decorated with animal faces. You can use colored pens or pencils to draw the face, or you can use a black marker pen to make your animal face really stand out on the totem pole.

Lots of common animals that the Native Americans would have displayed on their totem poles include bears, wolves, ravens, and beavers. Obviously, you can use any type of animal you want on your totem pole, but if you’re looking to create a realistic and authentic totem pole, have a think about some of the animals that they might have put on their totem poles.

4. Keep drawing lots of different animal faces up and down the totem pole. You can also add different shapes to the pole, such as a moon and a sun. You could use your construction paper to cut shapes out of and stick them onto your totem pole for more color.

There’s no rules for making a totem pole, it’s important to get creative and make something unique. Your best designs should reside at the bottom of the pole, because traditionally Native Americans had their most significant designs placed here (because totem poles are read bottom up). 

5. To add some more Native American flair to your homemade totem pole, you can add some wings to it. You can make a pair of wings by drawing them on your construction paper and carefully cutting them out. Once you’ve got your wings, you can glue or tape them to the sides of the totem pole. 

6. Make sure to attach your totem pole to a paper base so that it is well supported and can stand up. You could use colored construction paper to give the base of your totem pole more color. It’s a good idea to draw some animal faces and shapes onto the base of your totem pole too, for a true authentic Native American look.


Making your own totem pole can be a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to honor the amazing history of Native American tribes. Totem poles were a way for Native Americans to visualize their history, culture, and beliefs.

In some cases, animals and humans were carved together onto the totem poles to represent a supernatural being with power that a tribe believes in or desires to obtain.

There is a fascinating history surrounding totem poles, and creating a homemade totem can be a fun art project, too!