The 2016 Lummi Totem Journey begins

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Q’al. The word means “belief” in the Lummi language.

It is a fitting title for this year’s totem pole journey. The journey, the fourth in four years, will unite tribes and communities all along the 4,865-mile, 18-day sojourn with the totem pole.

It is belief that helped defeat the various coal port proposals over the past three years, tribal leaders say. And it is belief that is needed now as tribes and their supporters continue to oppose projects that would deliver toxic tar sands and Bakken oil by rail and shipped out of ports in Washington and British Columbia. The 2016 journey is intended not only to help inspire the belief that is needed to win, again, but is also a renewed call for diligence, vigilance and unity as tribes and communities across the Pacific Northwest and western Canada stand up for their families, the land and water, and future generations.

Lummi Master Carver Jewell James says the sacredness of the totem pole is heightened when imbued with the prayers and messages of many people of many communities, sharing and standing together in a moment of unity at each of the Journey’s Blessing stops. From these acts of unity, the totem pole, James says, becomes a lasting part of our memories and a symbol of our resistance against those forces that would destroy those things that we all hold as so very precious and on which we all depend on for our very existence.

When the totem pole finally reaches its home in Winnipeg, it will embody the voices and prayers of thousands of people throughout the United States and Canada. The journey will end at the place Where the Two Rivers Meet, and will stand as a sentinel, watching over the land, the waters and the peoples.

Following the blessing ceremony in Bellingham this week, the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation will begin their 5,000-mile trip across the western United States and Canada with the 22-foot- long totem pole. The journey is intended to bring attention to proposed fossil fuel terminals, oil trains, coal trains and oil pipelines and the threat they pose to tribes and local communities.

The western red cedar totem pole features a a bald eagle with wings spread on top with a medicine wheel on its chest. Below it is a buffalo skull and, below that, a wolf on one side of the pole and a coyote on the other. Below them an Indian chief with a war bonnet faces a medicine man and sharing a peace pipe with smoke rising from the pipe.
The symbols represent a union between Coast Salish peoples and the tribes of the interior. Created by the House of Tears Carvers, the totem is a gift to the Winnipeg, one of Canada’s First Nations asserting sovereign rights in the face of the proposed expansion of the Kinder-Morgan TransMountain pipeline.

TransMountain filed an application that was reviewed and provisionally approved earlier this year by Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) to expand its 1,150-kilometer pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, a suburb just east of Vancouver. Fully built out, a spur of that pipeline is planned to cross into Whatcom County to deliver tar sands bitumen products to local refineries. The company says the proposed $5.4-billion expansion project would increase capacity of TransMountain from approximately 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

Kinder-Morgan says its application addresses environmental, socioeconomic, landowner and public consultation, marine-risk assessments and engineering issues. The company adds that if approved by the Canadian government by the end of the year, the expanded pipeline could be operational by late 2017.

The pipeline expansion proposal is just the latest energy megaproject that seeks to use the coast of the Pacific Northwest to ship fossil fuels to developing markets in Asia.
First Nations stand against the expansion, and they’ve been joined in solidarity by tribes across the West, including the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Tulalip Tribes, Suquamish Tribe and Lummi Nation.

“We are coming together to make it clear that the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and our allies will never consent to the Kinder Morgan pipeline or similar projects—they would destroy our culture, our way of life and our spirituality. This is a time for unprecedented unity” said Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative.

“Over the last 100 years, our most sacred site, the Salish Sea, has been deeply impacted by our pollution-based economy,” Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby said. Cladoosby also serves as the 21st President of National Congress of American Indians, and is a representative of the Association of Washington Tribes.

“Every kind of pollution ends up in the Salish Sea,” he said. “We have decided no more and we are stepping forward. It is up to this generation and future generations to restore and protect the precious waters of the Salish Sea.”

The journey includes events in Bellingham and Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, Longview, and continues to Sandpoint, Idaho, and Missoula, Mont., crossing into Edmonton, Alberta, and arriving at last in Manitoba. Events will also include blessings from the Yakama Nation, the Spokane Tribe, and Cheyenne River Indian Tribe.

The journey can be followed at

March Silver Reef
More Community...
The legacy of Bellingham’s parks acquisition program and a new strategic plan

Like many beautiful cities in extraordinary locations, Bellingham struggles with growth. When the economy is on an uptick, the pressure intensifies. With great foresight, in 1990 our community initiated a grassroots led Greenway Program that levied additional property taxes to raise funds…

more »
Whatcom Water
Problems and prospects

Water resource planners continue to meet to update the county’s Watershed Management Plan, a complex and often cumbersome attempt to inventory and manage Whatcom County’s diverse water systems.

Whatcom County has serious, long-term water quantity problems. Fortunately, solutions to…

more »
Taking Back 
Our Democracy
Hedrick Smith describes reclaiming the American Dream

“History often has hidden beginnings,” writes Hedrick Smith in the prologue to his latest book, Who Stole the American Dream. “There is no blinding flash of light in the sky to mark a turning point, no distinctive mushroom cloud signifying an atomic explosion that will forever alter…

more »
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition


Imagine Convergence on Orcas Island

12:00pm|Rosario Resort

Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure

7:00pm|Meridian High School

Dyo Festival Plays

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Bellingham Puppetry and Mask Festival

7:30pm|Alternative Library

SICBA Home & Garden Show

11:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

Tarnation, Ryan Stiles

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

The Pageturners

7:30pm|ACT Annex

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #154

Honeywagon Runs

8:00am|Riverside Park

Nordic Roots Seminar

9:00am|United Methodist Church

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Squalicum Creek

Native Plant Sale

9:00am|Whatcom Community College

Make It and Take it

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

WNPS Field Trip

9:00am|Breazeale Interpretive Center

Spring Studio Seconds Sale

10:00am|Blue Water Pottery

Quilt Museum Annex Open House

10:00am|Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum

Youth Ag Day

10:00am|Skagit Farmers Supply

Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

Dahlias Made Easy

11:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Free My Heart

12:00pm|Village Books

Tax Help Available

12:30pm|First Congregational Church

Fidalgo and Mount Baker Youth Symphonies

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Forest Bathing

1:00pm|Rockport State Park

A Family Immigration Story


Cheese Classes

5:00pm|Chuckanut Center

PechuKucha Night

5:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Contra Dance with the Alphabeats

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Manouche NW Concert Series

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Giovanni & the Camino of St. Francis

7:00pm|Village Books

Gabriel and Rebecca Manalac

7:30pm|Jansen Art Center

Skagit Symphony's Masterpiece Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Village Books
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Imagine Convergence on Orcas Island

12:00pm|Rosario Resort

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition


SICBA Home & Garden Show

11:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

The Pageturners

7:30pm|ACT Annex

Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

History Tour

12:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Legally Blonde, the Musical

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Murder & Mayhem

3:00pm|Everson Library

Poems for Peace

3:00pm|The Happy Place

Powerful in pink


Art of Jazz

4:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Classy Comedy

7:00pm|Upfront Theatre

The Hunts Legally Blonde
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition


Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

Community Soup Kitchen

6:00pm|Little Cheerful Cafe

Monday Night Pizza

6:00pm|Ciao Thyme Commons


7:00pm|Alternative Library

Open Mic Night

7:00pm|Village Books


9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

see our complete calendar »

Trove Web Legally Blonde Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Bos2 The Hunts Village Books