This totem pole commemorates Utah Centennial and the coming together of Native Americans and Scandinavians as they settled in Ephraim Utah.The Ehpraim area is full of interesting heritage from both the Native Americans and Scandinavian Settlers. The totem pole is made up of an Eagle, a Native American,and a Scandinavian Woman. The images represent and honor the Wildlife,the Native Americans,and the Scandinavian Settlers.
Ephraim Totem Pole
On the northern edge of Pioneer Heritage Park in Ephraim,
Utah, stands a memorial honoring the wildlife, Native Americans and Mormon
Scandinavian Pioneers of Ephraim. This memorial is designed in a totem pole
style, giving honor to three important parts of Ephraim’s heritage: the
wildlife, the Native Americans and the Scandinavian settlers.
Totem Poles have many different purposes; they can stand as
grave markers, memorials to a person or event, family emblem, a tribute to a
revered ancestor, and many others. While they represent all these things and
more, they are not used for religious purposes. Totem poles have animals and
humans carved into them, sometimes in harmony with each other. The word “totem”
refers to ancestor or a guardian, and in very few cases is worshipped within
their families. The peak of carving these extravagant memorials was from the
early to late 19th century when metal tools were easily accessible. Hiring a
carver to carve a totem pole was very expensive and still is today, which is
why they are somewhat uncommon and very valuable. The Ephraim Totem Pole serves
the purpose of memorializing the union between the Native Americans and
Scandinavians in Sanpete County.
Totem Pole is in the town of Ephraim, Utah in Sanpete County. Ephraim has a rich Mormon Pioneer heritage
that began in 1852, when Isaac Behunin and his family settled in a dugout in
the area near where Pioneer Heritage Park now is. Because of cultural
differences between the settlers and the Native Americans along with concerns the
Native American’s had for their depleting food sources over nearly two decades,
many tragic conflicts arose. These conflicts ended up being a part of what is
now known as the Utah Black Hawk War from 1865 to 1872. The war was named Black
Hawk because the Ute Indian Chief, Antonga Black Hawk of the Timpanogas Tribe,
led warriors in raids against the Mormon settlers to protect his people, their
lands and their way of life. Eventually, the settlers and the Indians came
together and made peace to end their long-time contention with each other. In
the last few years of his life, Black Hawk travelled to every town he had
harmed and apologized for his actions. This was a remarkable act of heroism and
forgiveness toward his enemy, the white settlers, whose coming changed the way
of life for his people ever after.
As Utah’s centennial celebration drew near, Mark and Susannah
Nilsson wanted to memorialize the history of Ephraim’s early Native American
and Scandinavian settlers. They came up with the idea to represent three
aspects of Ephraim’s heritage in a totem pole style monument. The monument
represents the natural wildlife of the area with an eagle at the top; it
represents the Natives who lived there when the pioneers came with a Native
Woman in the middle; and finally, it represents the Scandinavian settlers, with
a Scandinavian woman at the bottom. This totem pole is carved out of one of the
large black willow trees that once stood in Heritage Pioneer Park where the
totem pole is located.
The monument was carved by an unknown itinerant artist,
living in his van and selling small carvings along the roadside. Susannah
stopped and talked with him and asked if he would come to Ephraim and carve the
project. He agreed as he had carved other large statues though out Utah for
other parks. He came to Ephraim, parked his van across the street from the park
where the totem pole now resides and worked on it for three weeks. When it was finished,
the city workers of Ephraim poured the cement base to erect the centennial memorial.
The bottom of the monument says:
Ancient Natives, Ancestral Scandinavians
Together Bound On This Sacred Ground
Utah Centennial 1896-1996
Some interesting facts:
• One little
known fact about the totem was that the day the city crew came to set it up and
bolt it down to the cement base, the wood cracked and split. The city crew
glued and clamped it back together; it has held together these past 20 years.
Black Hawk’s remains were permanently interred at Spring Lake, Utah, on May 4,
1996, just three weeks prior to the erection of the Ephraim Totem Pole over the
Memorial Day weekend of the same year.
To learn more about the Utah Black Hawk War please
feel free to click the link below.
For other information contact: UTE Indian Tribe –