Lummi Nation July 15, 2021

CNN coverage of the Red Road to DC

For the House of Tears Carvers, totem poles are more than masterful works of art — they’re a medium for storytelling, for raising consciousness, for healing. The group of artisans from the Lummi Nation, one of the original inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest, has for decades hauled its masterful works of art around the country to unite communities around issues of local and national concern.

This year, they’re taking a 25-foot, 5,000-pound totem pole all the way to the nation’s capital. Organizers are calling the journey the “Red Road to DC,” a two-week national tour that will begin July 14 in Washington state and culminate in Washington, DC. Along the way, the House of Tears Carvers plan to stop with the totem pole at a number of sites sacred to Indigenous peoples.

Their goal: To protect those sacred sites from the existential threats of the climate crisis and extractive industries — and to ensure tribal nations have a seat at the table when decisions affecting them are made.

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Washington D.C. June 22, 2021

Washington Post on the Red Road to DC

From the Washington Post: “For master carver Jewell “Praying Wolf” James, a Lummi Nation citizen, the totem pole is “a reminder of the promises that were made to the first peoples of this land and waters.” He said he hopes that people will “share in their responsibility to safeguard the sacred sources of life — Earth, water and sky.”

“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. She said keeping the pole in D.C. would make it a “monument to the protection of sacred places and a way of relating to the land.”

Judith LeBlanc, director of the Native Organizers Alliance said bringing the pole to the nation’s capital will encourage national leaders to “recognize what their ancestral responsibilities are.” “We sat nation-to-nation and signed agreements,” LeBlanc said. “We gave up land that mattered in order to receive health care, education and housing. Those treaty rights have been denied all through history.”

LeBlanc said she hopes the White House will “create a whole new reset with tribal nations by bringing us to the table to not just consult, but to come up with solutions” to protect land and water resources on sites sacred to Native Americans.”

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