Totem-pole meaning

A post carved and painted with a series of family or clan crests or with figures representing mythic beings and erected usually before a dwelling, as among certain Native American peoples of the northwest coast of North America.
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A hierarchy.

Low on the totem pole.

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A pole or post carved and painted with totems, often erected in front of their dwellings by Indian tribes of the NW coast of North America.
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Any hierarchical system.

At the top of the state's educational totem pole.

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(sculpture) Native American sculpture made by carving trees.
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