One way to get a very tall and impressive totem pole is to use five gallon buckets for the totems. The totems are lightweight and easy to transport but this totem has almost unlimited capabilities for creativity. The one thing left as an exercise to the reader is to find a really good paint that sticks to plastic without chipping. The steps to creating this totem are:
Take a five-gallon bucket. Optionally cut holes in the lid and in the bottom.
Attach the top of the bucket to the bottom using a couple of bolts and washers.
Now multiple buckets can be snapped together to form a totem pole. The optional holes, can be aligned between the bucket tops and bottoms. This gives the potential to wire the totem for lights or a smoke machine for some awesome special effects.
If you want the effect of wings or other protruding items you can cut slits in the side of the bucket as shown in picture d1, then rotate as in d2, cut matching slits in the crossing piece as pictured in d3 and slide together as shown in d4. Be sure the top of your object is below where the lid from the next bucket up will come and that the bottom of your object is higher than the bottom of your bucket so you do not invade your fellow tribe member‘s side space.
Two final suggestions, make a top and bottom as a tribe. The top totem should let people know whose totem pole this is. The bottom totem should be attached to a 3x3 sheet of plywood, which can be weighted or pegged down to keep the assembled totem pole upright.