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Lummi Nation totem pole making journey to Biden

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Lummi Nation member Jewell Ridley-James, son of lead carver Jewell James, helps to work on the final details of a diving eagle on a nearly 25-foot totem pole to be gifted to the Biden administration, Monday, April 12, 2021, on the Lummi Reservation, near Bellingham, Wash. The pole, carved from a 400-year old red cedar, will make a journey from the reservation past sacred indigenous sites, before arriving in Washington, D.C. in early June. Organizers said that the totem pole is a reminder to leaders to honor the rights of Indigenous people and their sacred sites.
Lummi Nation member Jewell Ridley-James, son of lead carver Jewell James, helps to work on the final details of a diving eagle on a nearly 25-foot totem pole to be gifted to the Biden administration, Monday, April 12, 2021, on the Lummi Reservation, near Bellingham, Wash. The pole, carved from a 400-year old red cedar, will make a journey from the reservation past sacred indigenous sites, before arriving in Washington, D.C. in early June. Organizers said that the totem pole is a reminder to leaders to honor the rights of Indigenous people and their sacred sites. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) (Photos by Elaine Thompson/Associated Press) Photo Gallery

BELLINGHAM — A totem pole carved at the Lummi Nation from a 400-year-old red cedar will begin a cross-country journey next month, evoking an urgent call to protect sacred lands and waters of Indigenous people.

The journey, called the Red Road to DC, will culminate in early June in Washington, D.C., The Seattle Times reported.

The expedition will start at the Lummi Nation outside Bellingham and will make stops at Nez Perce traditional lands; Bears Ears National Monument in Utah; the Grand Canyon; Chaco Canyon, New Mexico; the Black Hills of South Dakota; and the Missouri River, at the crossing of the Dakota Access Pipeline, where thousands protested its construction near Native lands.

This fall, the pole will be featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. A special exhibition was developed by the Natural History Museum and House of Tears Carvers at the Lummi Nation, which is gifting the pole to the Biden administration.

Head carver and Lummi tribal member Jewell Praying Wolf James said he and a team ranging in age from 4 to 70 carved the pole beginning this winter.

They carved the pole one figure at a time, led by spirit, inspiration and dreams, James said. The figures include chinook salmon, a wolf, a bear, an eagle diving to Earth, and even a child in jail – a reference to children presently incarcerated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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