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"People are attracted to Northwest Coast [art] for many reasons. It is distinctive, compositionally complex, geographically specific, and beautiful to look at. For some, it is an integral part of their identity and a source of cultural pride. For others, it is an art form that is highly valued for its designs and craftsmanship. In both cases, whether they understand the history and cultural context within which Northwest Coast Indigenous [art] is created or not, most buyers and collectors are intrigued by the symbols, the composition, and the techniques used to create individual pieces." - From Understanding Northwest Coast Indigenous Jewelry by Alexander Dawkins
Indigenous artwork on the Pacific Northwest Coast often incorporates figures and animals that are related to crest symbols. Crests have been passed down through families and have varying meanings depending on the context and association with a nation, clan, or family. The figures depicted in contemporary Northwest Coast Indigenous artwork also have varying meanings but there are some common characteristics from a range of sources, including oral histories and artist descriptions.