Totem Pole circa 1900
Native American Inventions
Native Americans invented the totem pole, toboggan, kayak and more.
Totem PoleWest Coast First Peoples consider that the first totem pole was a gift from Raven. It was named Kalakuyuwish, "the pole that holds up the sky." The totem poles were often used as family crests denoting the tribe's descent from an animal such as the bear, raven, wolf, salmon, or killer whale.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, "There are seven principal kinds of totem pole: memorial, or heraldic, poles, erected when a house changes hands to commemorate the past owner and to identify the present one; grave markers, house posts, which support the roof; portal poles, which have a hole through which a person enters the house; welcoming poles, placed at the edge of a body of water to identify the owner of the waterfront; mortuary poles, in which the remains of the deceased are placed; and ridicule poles, on which an important individual who had failed in some way had his likeness carved upside down."
TobogganToboggan comes from the Algonquian word odabaggan. The toboggan is an invention of the Eastern First Peoples. Indian hunters first built toboggans made of bark to carry game over the snow. The Inuit (sometimes called Eskimos) used to make toboggans of whalebone, otherwise a toboggan is made of strips of hickory, ash, or maple, with the front ends curved back.
Tipi and Other HousingTipis or tepees are adaptations of Wigwams that were invented by the Plains First Peoples. Seven main styles of Native American housing were invented the Wickiup, the Wigwam, the Longhouse, the Tipi, the Hogan, the Dugout, and the Pueblo.
KayakThe kayak was invented by the Inuit Peoples.
Birch Bark CanoeThe birch bark canoe was invented by the Eastern First Peoples. The word 'canoe' originiated from the word 'kenu' - meaning dugout.
SnowshoesSnowshoes were invented by the Eastern First Peoples.
LacrosseLacrosse was invented by the Iroquois and Huron Peoples.
MoccasinsMoccasins originated with the Eastern North American tribes, traditionally referred to a shoe with a puckered u-shaped 'vamp' over the instep. The name of the Great Lakes Ojibway tribe means 'people of the puckered moccasin'. The southern New England Narragansett word for shoe is 'Mocussinass' or 'Mockussinchass'.