At 173 feet tall, the wooden tribal totem in Alert Bay, British Colombia is demonstrably the tallest tower of its kind in the entire world, but many people have argued that for a number of reasons it is not worthy of the surprisingly contentious title.
Despite the raw numbers that the Alert Bay totem pole holds the title with, hardcore totem pole enthusiasts have called foul on the carved wood spire due to the fact that it was built in three sections which were then joined together. According to such record pedants, the true heir to the title of world's tallest totem pole is a 140 foot pole located in Kalama, Washington, which is one solid length of wood. However even this pole was not satisfying enough to some people who deem it invalid due to the fact that it was not carved by a Native artisan. Looking further still for any totem pole worthy enough to claim the title through their byzantine set of criteria, there is a 132 foot pole in Kake, Alaska that seem to fit the bill even for purists.
This categorization is so contentious that the world's former tallest totem pole, a 185 foot giant that stood in Victoria British Colombia (and was also built in sections) was actually taken down after a great deal of vocal protest. At the end of the day, the Alert Bay totem pole is in fact the tallest in the world, but in this competition, like in so many things, size doesn't always matter.