A narrative that is common to a group of people, be it national or professional, is the symbolic infrastructure that enables them to feel they belong together. That they share a common language. An individual who received a grant to perform a task may do it not only for the monetary incentive but in order to take part in something bigger. This is especially pertinent for indie developers whose sub-culture is in line with the Totem narrative: egalitarian, individualistic, democratic, multicultural, and transparent, and they want to belong to the group of people who share the narrative that upholds their values.

The name “Totem” in the language of the Ojibwa natives of the Great Lakes of North America means "He or she is a relative of mine". It was chosen as our name because it represents the familial relations between members as a value, as well as the relations we want members to have with the blockchain-based Totem DAO. We aim to form a narrative and an identity for people who share their passion and encourage involvement, exchange, and production within the community of the tribe.

Ancient tribes all around the world used totems to replace the need for a single authority. Instead of accepting the tribe leader as a god-like figure, one step beyond the alpha-male of the ape, they raised an inanimate totem to unite the tribe. The tribe leader became secondary to the totem and could be replaced by another representative, without severing the tribe’s cohesion. The totem is the image adopted by the community to the identity of the community itself!

What is a totem? It is as a rule an animal (whether edible and harmless or dangerous and feared) and more rarely a plant or a natural phenomenon (such as rain or water), which stands in a peculiar relation to the whole clan. In the first place, the totem is the common ancestor of the clan; at the same time it is their guardian spirit and helper, which sends them oracles and, if dangerous to others, recognizes and spares its own children. Conversely, the clansmen are under a sacred obligation (subject to automatic sanctions) not to kill or destroy their totem and to avoid eating its flesh (or deriving benefit from it in other ways). --Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo

The totem is a replacement of the ruler by the symbol of the clan itself. Clan members are unified as brothers and sisters through the myth of a common ancestor. The symbol protects them and is protected by them, especially against tyrannical attempts to seize power. 

What is particular to Totem as a DAO is that it is a community of creators. This requires special attention not only to the psychological need to belong via shared values, but also to be supported as an individual, in the cultural narrative, and the technological possibilities.

We envision Totem as a tribe made of several clans, with each clan representing a different group. Game developers, contributors, software developers, influencers, legal advisors, are all members of the tribe, introduced into separate clans. They are all working together among themselves and with members of other clans.

Totem Game Development Network 2022