Totem Truths

Great for team bonding, strengths and weaknesses

In the past, a totem pole was carved for several reasons; for example, to honor a deceased elder who was important to the carver, to show the number of rights and names a person had acquired over his or her lifetime, or to document an encounter with the supernatural.

Today, totems are carved not ons but also to tell the story about the person commissioning the pole. You and your team are about to design a totem pole to discover your group’s strengths and weaknesses.

  1. In a moment, the facilitator will divide you into teams. Each of you will be handed a piece of cardboard and a list of totems. You are to design a totem figure that best represents your strengths in the group. You may use one of the totem symbols given or make up your own.
  2. Once you have completed your drawing, you and your team will tape them one on top of the other on a portion of the wall. Be prepared to explain your strength to the group.


Materials Needed 8.5” x 11” Cardboard Piece for Each Participant

  • Markers
  • List of Animal Totems

Time Allow 20 minutes for the entire process. This exercise is excellent for teambuilding.


  • Alligator – Maternal and vengeful
  • Ant – Group minded, patient, active, and industrious
  • Antelope – Active, agile, and willing to sacrifice
  • Armadillo – Safety oriented and cautious
  • Badger – Courageous, aggressive, healing and energizing
  • Bat – Regenerative and long living
  • Bear – Industrious, instinctive, healing, powerful, sovereign, protective of the world, and strong
  • Beaver – Determined, strong-willed, constructive, and protective
  • Bee – Organized, industrious, productive, wise, social, celebratory, and enthusiastic about life Buffalo – Sacred and strong
  • Butterfly – Metamorphic and transformative
  • Cat – Protective, detached, sensual, mysterious, magical, and independent
  • Cheetah – Swift, insightful, and focused
  • Cow – Nurturing and maternal
  • Coyote – Intelligent, stealthy, tricky, and mischievous Crane – Solitary, just, enduring, independent, intelligent, and vigilant
  • Crow – Law enforcing, shape shifting, changeable, creative, spiritual, energetic, and just
  • Deer – Intellectual, gentle, caring, kind, subtle, graceful, feminine, gentle, and innocent
  • Dog – Noble, faithful, loyal, trainable, protective, and guiding
  • Dolphin – Kind, prudent, capable of deep emotion, wise, and happy
  • Dragon – Enduring, infinite, wise, powerful, and fiery
  • Dragonfly – Flighty, carefree, and strongly imaginative
  • Eagle – Divine, sacrificing, intelligent, courageous, spiritually illuminated, healing, and daring Elephant – Strong, powerful, and wise Elk – Strong and agile, proud, independent, pure, and noble
  • Falcon – Adventurous, passionate, and leading
  • Fish – Graceful
  • Fox – Cunning, agile, quick-witted, diplomatic, wild; feminine in its magic of camouflage, shapeshifting and invisibility
  • Frog – Cleansing, transformative, sensitive, medicinal, undiscernibly beautiful and powerful
  • Gazelle – Aggressive
  • Goose – Self-demanding, reliable, prudent, rigid, vigilant, parental, and productive
  • Hawk – Informative, intuitive, victorious, healing, noble, cleansing, visionary, and protective Horse – Independent, enduring, mobile, terrestrial, powerful, and free
  • Hummingbird – Portentous, timeless, healing, and combative
  • Jaguar – Chaotic and shape shifting
  • Lion – Family-oriented, strong, energetic, courageous, and protective
  • Lizard – Conservational and visionary
  • Llama – Comforting to others Lynx – Discrete, protective, and guiding
  • Moose – Headstrong, enduring, steadfast, and wise
  • Mouse – Observant, orderly, organized, and detail oriented
  • Opossum – Diversionary, strategic, and deceptive
  • Otter – Playful, friendly, dynamic, joyful, helpful, and generous
  • Owl – Deceptive, clairvoyant, insightful, informative, detached, wise, changeable, and silent
  • Ox – Sacrificing and self-denying Peacock – Immortal, dignified, and self-confident
  • Porcupine – Innocent, companionable, and trustworthy
  • Rabbit – Fearful, timid, nervous, humble, fertile, intuitive, balanced, and fertile.
  • Raccoon – Curious and clean Raven – Introspective, courageous, self-knowing, healing, protective, tricky, and magical
  • Salmon – Proud, intense, confident, wise, inspiring, and rejuvenating
  • Seahorse – Confident and graceful
  • Seal – Loving, desirous, imaginative, creative, and dreamy
  • Shark – Predatory, enduring, and adaptable
  • Skunk – Noticeably present, and strong
  • Snake – Impulsive, shrewd, transformative, healing, energetic, and wise
  • Squirrel – Organized and gathering
  • Stag – Sovereign, regenerative, giving of bounty, beauty, and mystical signs.
  • Swan – Graceful, balanced, innocent, soulful, loving, beautiful, self-possessed
  • Tiger – Strong, valorous, powerful, and energetic
  • Turkey – Generous, life-giving, and self-sacrificing
  • Turtle – Nurturing, shy, and protective
  • Weasel – Strong, energetic, ingenious, and stealthy
  • Whale – Wise and giving
  • Wolf – Loyal, persevering, successful, intuitive, trainable, ritualistic, and spirited
  • Woodpecker – Sensitive, protective, and loyal

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