Jun 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Native Americans to bring 5,000-pound totem pole across country for land awareness

People blessing the totem pole in San Leandro, California, on June 3.

People blessing the totem pole in San Leandro, Calif., on June 3. Photo: Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group

Native Americans are transporting a 5,000-pound totem pole from Washington state to Washington, D.C., over two weeks in July to raise awareness about protecting land that they consider sacred, according to the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The effort, which organizers are calling the “Red Road to D.C.,” has already raised $500,000 from nonprofits, sponsors, and tribal groups.

The big picture: The totem will be hauled by a semi-trailer and will be led by around a dozen people, including many members of the Lummi Nation.

  • The caravan will stop at several locations considered sacred by Native American tribes along the way, including Chaco Canyon National Historic Park in New Mexico, the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota and Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
  • After it arrives at the nation's capital on July 29, the totem pole will be on display for two days on the National Mall and outside of the National Museum of the American Indian, though a permanent home in D.C. is being arranged, according to the Post.

What they're saying: Jewell “Praying Wolf” James, a Lummi Nation citizen who was the master carver of the pole, told the Post that it is “a reminder of the promises that were made to the first peoples of this land and waters."

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