Last Friday, I participated in a totem pole blessing that was part of a multi-community protest against the transport of coal through Native American communities.
The overall purpose of the protest was outlined on the organization website: "The proposed coal export projects would affect Native American communities all along the transportation corridor. Mining, hauling and shipping coal would damage culturally and spiritually important landscapes, traditional livelihoods and lifeways, and, by damaging ecosystems and fishing grounds, would impinge on treaty rights."
I told the people that I usually try to avoid overtly political events, but this event was not political in my mind. It is about protecting the environment and our native ways of life. It is about the spirit of the land, and so for me, it transcends all political differences.
Jewell James, a member of the Lummi Nation near Bellingham, Washington, carved the totem pole with the support of his community. The pole was then transported to tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest where community members and spiritual leaders offered their blessing and support.
After leaving Spokane, the totem pole will visit other communities to receive their blessing. Finally, the pole will be raised in British Columbia.
Jewell brought a spirit of laughter, humility, and strength to the blessing ceremony.
Twa-le Abrahamson of the Spokane Tribe organized the Spokane portion of the event. She is active in our community in the support of tribal sovereignty, culture, and ecological preservation.
A salmon detail at the base of the totem pole.
Miss Gathering at the Falls.
No Coal Exports.
A detail photograph of the eye happened to also capture a yellow jacket and its shadow.
Vincent Feliciano traveled with the totem pole. He spoke to me passionately about his art and his desire to make a difference with other young people. He also spoke to me about setting a good example for his son. His words were powerfully inspiring.
The pole rested on the back of a flatbed truck.
Carol Evans represented the Spokane Tribal Council.
Twa-le addressed the media.