Hello all – I heard about this late, it was in California and in Gilroy June 5th. If you are travelling this summer, maybe you can catch it in another state. If you do, please let us know! There is a video also below…Read further in the Washington Post:
The totem pole’s journey on a tractor-trailer, which organizers are calling the “Red Road to D.C.,” involves a two-week trek led by about a dozen people, many of whom are Native Americans and members of the Lummi Nation, a tribe of about 5,000 members west of Bellingham, Wash. About $500,000 has been raised from dozens of nonprofits, sponsors, and tribal groups for the cross-country trip.
In preparation for the journey, the group took the pole on a tour this spring along the West Coast and parts of the South. Group members will hit the road again in mid-July, arriving in the nation’s capital by July 29. The pole will be on display for two days on the Mall and outside the entrance of the National Museum of the American Indian.
Native American organizers said they plan to “deliver the pole to the Biden administration in hopes that it gives a strong and important message.” Arrangements are being made to find a permanent home for it in D.C., organizers said.
On their road trip to D.C., the caravan plans to stop at several spots of importance to Native Americans, including Chaco Canyon National Historic Park in New Mexico, the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota and Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Each faces threats of development tied to natural resources or pipelines.
For Jewell “Praying Wolf” James, a Lummi Nation citizen and the master carver of the pole, it is “a reminder of the promises that were made to the first peoples of this land and waters.” He said he hopes that people will “share in their responsibility to safeguard the sacred sources of life — Earth, water and sky.”
The idea came from Phreddie Lane, a Lummi Nation citizen. He said he is “proud of how strongly Native Americans had come out to vote in swing states in the last U.S. presidential election” and he wants the new administration to “hear our message” of concern about issues important to Native Americans and, in particular, worries about sacred sites being harmed.
“It’s a very historic moment to bring it to D.C.,” Lane said. “And to have it sit among these sacred national monuments, representing Native American peoples, is special.”
White House officials said they are aware of the totem pole’s journey to Washington.
Libby Washburn, special assistant to the president for Native affairs and a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, said Biden is “committed to ensuring tribal voices have a seat at the table.” She noted he appointed Deb Haaland, who is Pueblo of Laguna, to lead the Interior Department — the first Native American Cabinet secretary — and has worked closely with “the Native community on our covid-19 response and plans to rebuild our economy.”
Totem pole carving is a tradition for some tribes, mainly in British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They often are said to be a “spiritual being” and are considered sacred symbols of a tribe, clan or a family tradition, experts said.
For the Lummi Nation, totem poles historically are carved with symbols that represent a certain clan of a tribe or show a family or tribe’s lineage. They can have scenes that depict animportant tribal leader or might have a panel that shows a tribal battle or a story told for generations, James said.
“They represent visions, dreams and stories that are handed down and shaped through each generation,” he said.
Standing 25 feet tall and measuring about 43 inches wide, the totem pole that’s coming to D.C. was made from a 400-year-old red cedar tree. The tree was cut, carved and painted with images and symbols that include a moon, salmon and a man praying. One drawing shows an eagle “headed downward in a dive to the Earth,” representing a Lummi belief that the eagle is “bringing the spiritual power to impregnate the Mother Earth.”
It contains an image of a woman with a girl kneeling near her, a scene meant to depict grandmothers across the country who are raising and teaching their granddaughters traditional Native American ways, James said.
Seven tears are near the image, which James said represents seven generations of Native people throughout the world who have been “traumatized by the treatment they received from non-Indians.”
Another area containsa red hand to bring attention to the hundreds of indigenous women who are murdered or go missing each year.
James’s group, called the “House of Tears Carvers,” spent three months this year working on the pole.
The group has created110 totem poles over three decades that range from 3 feet to 28 feet, he said. Most are given to schools, homes for veterans or other places in Washington state. Others recognize tragedies like the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A 13-foot totem pole was placed at Congressional Cemetery in D.C. to honor victims who were at the Pentagon that day.