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June 13, 2021

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Video shows Bellingham thieves rolling away with totem pole

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Bellingham Police have arrested one of the thieves who stole a hand-carved Lummi totem pole that was intended for display outside the offices of the tribe’s cable provider.

But the Indigenous artwork itself remains missing.

Ray Poorman of San Juan Cable told The Bellingham Herald that surveillance videos show two men breaking into a locked area behind the company’s office on C Street, where the totem pole was stored and awaiting installation.

It happened in the early morning hours of Friday, April 30, said Poorman and Bellingham Police Lt. Claudia Murphy.

“It’s beautiful tribal art,” Poorman said. “We supply internet to the tribe. Whenever our customers would come in they would see their history.”

Called “Communication,” the 11-foot 300-pound totem pole was carved by Felix Solomon of the Lummi Nation, Poorman said.

It shows a tribal member holding a salmon in outstretched hands, as an eagle dives with extended talons to accept the offering. Glass discs on each wing represent a red sun and a blue moon.

Video shows the thieves loading the totem pole on a cart or dolly and rolling it away.

Murphy told The Herald that one of the men in the video was arrested several later in the morning of April 30.

Joseph W. Barr, 31, of Bellingham, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree theft and second-degree burglary, Murphy said.

Murphy said investigators are still looking for the other suspect and the totem pole.

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