The Haida people, who have inhabited the Haida Gwaii archipelago off British Columbia, Canada, for tens of thousands of years, were some of the finest wood carvers in the Pacific Northwest during the totem pole boom that began in the late 18th century and carried itself to about 1900. In Native Americans: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Peoples (1998), Barry Pritzker calls the Haida "outstanding wood-carvers" and speaks of their totem poles as some of the best in world history.
This high praise extends of course to Haida mortuary poles, which are simply totem poles specially modified to hold human remains in a box at the top. Here's an example from the 19th century, showing the pole and the frontal board behind which the boxed body rested.
The Haida were not the only people to carve these mortuary poles; they just did it better than anyone else. Their totem pole death legacy is actually quite fascinating, but in a way that's more admirable than macabre. To imply that there is anything spooky or crude about these poles would be to totally miss the point – the Haida had, and still have, great respect for those among them who ended up atop poles.
They're for Important People Only
Dead Bodies Waited a Year for Their Poles
When a Mortuary Pole Went Up, a Potlatch Went Down
Mortuary Poles Are Inverted Tree Trunks (and They Are Huge!)
Some Poles Are Purposely Left to Rot
The Spirits Stick Around