The Red Road
Lummi totem pole journey begins
What: Red Road Blessing Ceremony
When: 2:00 pm Mon., May. 24
Where: Granary Ave., Bellingham waterfront
Social gathering with Lummi vendors, local artists, salmon activity and music with local musicians Dana Lyons and others.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
The national journey begins.
Later this summer, the House of Tears Carvers of Lummi Nation will begin the Red Road to DC Totem Pole Journey, a trek across the nation to transport a 24-foot totem pole to Washington, D.C. Along the way, the cross-country trip will highlight sacred sites across the United States that are at risk. The pole will be presented to President Joe Biden and will be featured at the Smithsonian this fall.
First, however, the totem pole will be blessed by the community.
On Mon., May 24, at the Port of Bellingham offices on Granary Avenue, Whatcom County residents will have an opportunity to lay hands on the totem pole and imbue it with their prayers and their hopes, perhaps even their grief. Local speakers, musicians and artisans will accompany a blessing by interfaith representatives.
Beginning July 14, the House of Tears carvers at the Lummi Nation will make stops at several locations that are considered sacred to local tribes and indigenous peoples, and are current or potential targets for dams, mining, drilling or oil pipelines. At each stop, the activists will display the totem pole especially created to honor these sacred sites. They will meet with local tribes and residents to underscore the message that tribes must give their consent before major infrastructure projects are approved.
Tour stops will include the Snake River within Nez Perce traditional lands; Bears Ears National Monument in Utah; Chaco Canyon, Navajo Reservation in New Mexico; Black Hills in South Dakota; and stops along the Missouri River, including Standing Rock Reservation, ND; the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota; and the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan before arriving in Washington, D.C., on July 28, where the totem pole will be presented to the White House.
Following the tour, the totem pole will be featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
“Over the years elders to infants (as young as two) have helped in the creation and painting of our many Salish Totem Poles,” Master Carver Jewell Praying Wolf James said in an artist statement. “Many cousins, nephews, nieces, in-laws and others have come forward over the decades to participate in the various totem projects. Every assistant is respected and appreciated, no matter how much or how little they had contributed to the creation and finishing of a pole. The House of Tears has provided the Lummi Nation with many free poles that have been raised in the community. We have done this to culturally enrich our community youth. The House even secured a couple commissions for tribal projects. Our totem poles are located across the United States and up into Canada.”
Lummi Nation House of Tears Carvers have carved a totem pole in honor of sacred sites, bringing attention to, and promoting the protection and restoration of, sacred lands, landscapes and waterways. The journey starts by bringing attention to the urgent need to address the crisis in Xw’ullemy (the Salish Sea), and to the sacred obligation to restore and protect waterways critical to the future of the salmon and the Southern Resident Orcas.
Leading up to July, the Lummi Nation carvers will tour the pole throughout the Pacific Northwest and West. The carvers have already made stops to several Washington State locations, including the Lummi Reservation, Port Townsend, Coupeville, Tacoma, Bellingham, Arlington, and Ferndale.
“The background teachings are about our understandings of the ‘spirit,’” James explained. “It is everywhere, always. It is said the spirit will guide you and watch over you, and if you work diligently and unselfishly then you may receive a spiritual message or gift.”
The pole is carved with special meaning for Se-sealth, the tribal name of carver James:
“I had two short dreams while carving this pole, one from a passing elder that used to carve with us. The second one is the one I want to share here: I was with my maternal-side cousin, we were traveling in his truck, and making a short stop. I was sitting in the passenger seat, looking out the window and could see it was windy. As dreams are, I could see the waves of the wind.
“At that moment, a single eagle feather came traveling, upright, in the wind, like it was dancing. My cousin said, take it. It danced right to my window and I was getting ready to take it from the wind, as my cousin said, ‘Open your window and take it!’ I replied, ‘I am trying to get the window down now.’ I woke up.
“I call this dream, ‘Wind Dancing Eagle Feather.’ At this time, all the totem pole figures were completely added to the Sacred Sites Totem Pole. But, there was one small, midsection site on the pole, that was sanded but not carved, not even gouged in any fashion. This ‘feather with the visible wind waves’ was carved in that spot. To me, this will always be the ‘Wind Dancing Eagle Feather’ Totem Pole.”
Scheduled stops on the Red Road include:
July 14: Lummi Reservation (departure)
July 15: Snake River, Idaho
July 17: Bears Ears, Utah
July 18: Chaco Canyon, Navajo Reservation, New Mexico
July 20: Black Hills, South Dakota
July 22: Missouri River, Yankton Reservation, South Dakota
July 24: Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota
July 25: Line 3 Pipeline, White Earth Reservation, Minnesota
July 26: Line 5 Pipeline, Bay Mills Indian Community, Michigan
July 28-30: Washington DC
Read more about the Red Road to DC at its official website: http://www.redroadtodc.org