Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Summer of the Red Sun and Another Totem Journey From Lummi Nation in Whatcom County / 2015

Although yesterday morning brought exquisitely clear skies, the sun rose red this morning due to ongoing massive wildfires east of the Cascade Mountains. Somewhere I read that our current air quality in Whatcom County is much like that which has become typical in Beijing.

Totem Pole Journey 2015


"A Native American tribe is taking a 22-foot totem pole from Canada through the Pacific Northwest to Montana in opposition of proposed coal export terminals ..."

"... The projects would export millions of tons of coal annually to Asia. The tribes say the terminals would disrupt treaty-protected fishing rights, contaminate air and water, and harm sacred sites ..."

"... The totem pole was created by the House of Tears Carvers at the Lummi Nation. It took four months for a team to create it, said the tribe's master carver Jewell James.

Traditionally, totem poles use powerful symbols to depict visions, pass on tribal mythology or mark important tribal or family events, Jewell said. They're used at ceremonies, to honor the deceased, or to record stories.

But over the past years, the tribe has put them to a novel use; tribal members have taken the totem poles off the reservation to areas struck by disaster or facing a crisis, as symbols of strength and wisdom, Jewell said.

The Lummi have delivered totem poles to New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., after the 911 terrorist attacks. Last year, the tribe took a totem pole to Sioux territory in Northern Alberta to oppose tar sand mining, and the previous year to Vancouver to protest a proposed oil pipeline.

The symbols carved into the current totem are to encourage wise decisions that protect the environment, Jewell said. They include a medicine wheel, which symbolizes the transfer of traditional knowledge to tribal members; a flying eagle, which stands for spiritual knowledge; and a turtle representing the earth ..."


Sabine said...

Thank you this was a very interesting read about the totem poles.

I cannot imagine how I would feel with such fires so near to me. Can you sleep?

am said...

I had hoped that the information about the totem poles would be of interest. We are fortunate to live so close to the Lummi Nation and to know of their ongoing efforts on behalf of the environment.

It's a 3-hour drive to the east, over the Cascade Mountains, to where the fires are burning. Friends of mine who live there have been evacuated. They were evacuated a few years ago, too, for a smaller fire. Because of allergies, I have have had a HEPA air purifier for years, and with all the smoke in our air, I am keeping my windows closed and staying inside with the air purifier running. No trouble sleeping but have been having weird dreams.

Anonymous said...

We have been having a summer of red suns here too. The color is so interesting and other-worldly, makes me feel like I'm on another planet. Great piece on the totem poles.

am said...

robin andrea -- Makes me feel as if I am back in the San Francisco Bay Area or in Los Angeles in the early 1970s when the air was much more polluted than it is today, and I felt trapped and wanted to get away. That is part of the reason I left California then. California's air is much cleaner than it was back then.

Because you studied anthropology, I've been meaning to ask you if you know of an anthropology documentary, in color, which I think might have been made in the late 1960s. What I remember most clearly about it was that there was a group of Native American woman who were talking and laughing together. Although I didn't know what they were saying, I remember that their laughter was contagious and that I found myself laughing with them. They may have been from a tribe in the Pacific Northwest. I've been looking around the internet for the film. i have no idea what the name of the film was, but it was shown in an Introduction to Anthropology course I took at UC Irvine in 1967-1968, taught by Duane Metzger.

Tara said...

The run suns are beautiful but I could do without their beauty if we could forgo the fires. Our air has been bad lately from the many fires burning to the west and east of us. My asthma is kickin' up badly and I've had to stop my outdoor walks for the time being.

I love that the Lummi Nation has been making these totem poles to take to other parts of the country. A new story for me. It makes me happy to know that their creativity and intention (and prayers as such) are going out to those in need.

bev said...

The red sun reminds me of a summer of forest fires back in Ontario. The red sun coincided with some extremely hot weather. I remember feeling uneasy about the look of the air and the red sun. Oddly enough, a few years later, I got the same feeling when Don and I were in Arizona in early May - probably around 1997. We had decided to go to the Desert Botanical Garden in Tempe on a searingly hot afternoon. When we got out of the rental car with its deeply tinted glass, I stood looking around at the landscape. There was red dust blowing in the air and the sun looked like a ball of fire above. I felt like I must be on Mars. Very strange and disturbing.

I love the story about the totems being sent out to places where the environment is in need of help. If only everyone felt and did the same. If only.