With a skeleton on top and a whole family of faces below, this is one wonderful pole. It was built in 1904, created for Matt Larkin on the northwest coast (possibly by the Haida tribe) but then altered upon arrival in Albany, New York. The skeleton on top was added, as were the gentlemen around the middle (friends of the owner, who it is said was "father of the jukebox" ) and mounted on the grounds of his Burden Lake estate.
No actual tribe is identified, but it is certainly what we might call a marriage of cultures. Possibly Northwest origins with touches of Northeast drinking buddies? As you can see in my worn postcard, it is huge, dramatic and preservation worthy regardless.
The pole stood until 1958 when a storm brought it down. 20 years later it went to the Marian E. White Anthropology Museum, who received it in 5 pieces. The museum contains one million artifacts with a concentration on Woodland tribes such as the Seneca. Being a composite project at best, and a "genuine Native American fake" at worst, the totem pole seems to be an anomaly. Maybe that is why restoration has been taking decades...a low priority? But then the museum world moves slow...The biggest pieces are displayed in the museum, others are still being worked on.
The laborious process is documented HERE with a really cool picture of the pole you can click on to to check progress.