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The myth busting page

"Indians used to tie people to totem poles to torture them"  


This is yet another persistent myth crea-ted by popular boy's books like those by German writer Karl May. May had never even been to America, so he simply made everything up. The scene on your left is herefore no Hollywood film but these so- called The Adventures of Old Shatter-hand and Winnetou were actually recorded in Germany with German actors, later dubbed in the US when released there. But also in Hollywood itself this twisted idea already existed, especially in the old westerns of the 1950's.

  The first demonizing of totem poles occurred when European   Christians first laid eyes upon them as they mistakenly thought   they were subject of idol worship. However, this is not at all   true. Although their meanings can vary, most of them only record   historical events, clan lineages, family status or legends. Often a   thunderbird is displayed at the top. As totem poles were only in   use with the tribes along the Pacific west coast, the image above   is once again based on blatant ignorance where Winetou,   supposedly an Apache, is tied to it. It however has never   occurred that people have ever been tied to totempoles.


  Most totem poles from before 1900 have not survived due to   humid climate that decays the cedar wood.

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