Native Americans from the Lummi Nation are on a quest to bring a massive 5,000-pound hand-carved totem pole across the country next month in an effort to bring awareness to tribal issues nationwide.
The Lummi, who call the Pacific Northwest their ancestral home, will be transporting the 25-foot totem pole from Washington State all the way to the nation’s capital in Washington DC, where it will be put on display for two days on the Mall and outside of the National Museum of the American Indian upon its arrival July 29, according to the Washington Post.
The nearly 3,000 mile journey, dubbed the ‘Red Road to DC’ by organizers, will be done via tractor-trailer with about a dozen volunteers from the tribe, and is set to make a handful of stops along the way during the two-week trip.
‘It’s a very historic moment to bring it to D.C.,’ said the totem pole’s creator and Lummi Nation citizen Phreddie Lane. ‘And to have it sit among these sacred national monuments, representing Native American peoples, is special.’
Members of the Lummi Nation are bringing the massive totem pole cross country to the nation’s capital next month to raise awareness for tribal causes
The 25-foot hand-carved totem pole is being transported from Washington State all the way to Washington DC, where it will be put on display this summer
Lummi tribal member Phreddie Lane talks during a totem pole stop in San Leandro, California on Thursday during a test run before the two-week trek to the nation’s capital
$500,000 has already been raised by sponsors, non-profits and tribal organizations, the news outlet reports.
The totem pole transport was already taken on a test run through the Southern and Western United States over the spring, and is set to make stops at Chaco Canyon National Historic Park in New Mexico, the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota and Bears Ears National Monument in Utah when the caravan leaves for DC mid-July.
Each stop is of significance for Native Americans, with pipelines and other government projects threatening their natural resources, according to the Washington Post.
The plan is to ‘deliver the pole to the Biden administration in hopes that it gives a strong and important message’ regarding Native American issues, the event’s organizers said.
‘It’s going to carry the spirit of the land it visits and the power and prayers of the people along the way to the symbolic heart of the nation,’ said Beka Economopoulos, director of the Natural History Museum in Washington State.
While the totem pole is currently only scheduled for a two-day showing in the nation’s capital, plans are being made to find it a permanent home in Washington DC.
Lummi Nation lead carver Jewell James (pictured) works on the final details of a nearly 25-foot totem pole to be gifted to the Biden administration next month
The nearly 3,000 mile ‘Red Road to DC’ journey will be done via tractor-trailer and will make a handful of stops along the way before arriving in DC on July 29
‘It’s a very historic moment to bring it to D.C.,’ Lane said of the pole’s destination. ‘And to have it sit among these sacred national monuments, representing Native American peoples, is special.’
According to Lane, he was ‘proud of how strongly Native Americans had come out to vote in swing states in the last U.S. presidential election,’ which saw Joe Biden beat then-incumbent President Donald Trump.
The Post reports that officials in the White House are already informed of the totem pole’s journey, with special assistant to the president for Native affairs and a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation Libby Washburn stating Biden is ‘committed to ensuring tribal voices have a seat at the table.’
The pole itself was hand-carved from a 400-year-old red cedar tree, with paintings such as the moon and an eagle ‘headed downward in a dive to the Earth,’ symbolizing a tribal story of the eagle ‘bringing the spiritual power to impregnate the Mother Earth.’
The totem pole is also adorned with the painting of seven tears, signifying the seven generations of Native Americans that have been ‘traumatized by the treatment they received from non-Indians,’ according to the Washington Post.
Lummi Nation elder Lucille Spencer prays over the totem pole in Washington State before it is set to leave for the nation’s capital in mid-July
The pole itself was hand-carved from a 400-year-old red cedar tree, with paintings such as the moon and an eagle ‘headed downward in a dive to the Earth’