Totem poles are not an uncommon thing to see all over the state of Washington. They are unique to the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, which is made up of parts of Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia.

Alaskan Totems
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Totems can have special meanings; they can memorialize, celebrate ancestry and lineage, and they can even shame. The tribal influence can be found virtually everywhere in Washington. Did you know the Seahawks logo was inspired by a Kwakwaka’wakw mask? That's right, this transformation mask of an eagle played a key role in the team forging its initial identity. These things all remind us of the people who called the Pacific Northwest home long before most of us did.

Native Organizers Alliance Red Road 2 DC To Deliver The Red Road Totem To The Biden Administration
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Colfax, Washington may have one of the more bizarre totem poles in the entire Pacific Northwest.

This story begins in 1938, with a high school football game between Colfax and St. John. Colfax was shut out 14-0 that day. On the field for Colfax was John Crawford. After high school, Crawford studied drama at the University of Washington; later leaving for the U.K. for a movie career. He would have a successful career as an actor, landing roles in several films and television shows. Crawford had the brilliant idea for a rematch 50 years later.

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In 1988, Colfax once again played against St. John, but instead of the game being played by high schoolers, it was played by men over the age of 60. 4,000 people came to see the game. Colfax won the rematch and the old men got to live out their childhood once again.

Codger Pole was carved by a world-renown artist.

To commemorate the historic event, Crawford hired Jonathan LaBenne to construct a totem pole. The pole, now named Codger Pole was made from four cedar logs (cedar is the traditional wood used for totem poles) and featured the faces of all 51 players who played in the rematch, as well as the schools' mascots. The men are depicted in their older age but wear the leather helmets of the late 1930s.

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Where is Codger Pole?

Codger Pole is located in Colfax, which is between Pullman and Spokane if you take Highway 195. If you're looking for a fun and quick stop on the highway, this is certainly one of the most unique attractions in all of Washington.

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