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Last spring and summer, a 24-foot-long totem pole carved around seven visions by Master Carver Jewell James of the Lummi Nation in Washington State, was taken on a 20,000-mile epic journey across the United States (RedRoad To DC). This historic journey brought attention to the need to protect gravely imperiled Native American sacred sites, lands and waters across the United States. Some of the blessing stops included issues around Chaco Canyon, Bears Ears, Lines #3 and #5 in the Lake States, Black Hills, Snake River, Juristac and more. The Journey was designed, organized and funded by Native Organizer’s Alliance, IllumiNative, the Natural History Museum and SeSiLe in collaboration with House of Tears Carvers.
The journey began in Bellingham, Washington and ended over three months later on the Capitol Mall in Washington, DC, where the totem pole, its vision, and its message were received in person by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on behalf of the Biden Administration.
Over the course of the journey, thousands of people from all walks and ways of life came to events in tribal communities, on sacred lands, and in towns and cities across the United States.
At every event, people were also invited to participate in the creation of a sixteen-by-sixteen-foot commemorative mural guided by social artist Melanie Schambach. This creative process engaged hundreds of participants who expressed in their images our ancient and sacred obligation to Mother Earth. Participants created images representing rituals, customs, sacred practices, beliefs, visions, ancestral knowledge, and images from nature that express a connectivity with the Oneness of the world that is within and around us. This mural encourages action from a place of hope, creative compassion, and connectivity that is needed in a time of difficult truths. “Arts is a wonderful gateway for us to feel the rooting of our sorrows and grief,” Schambach observed, “and at the same time it can be a place to branch out our imagination, reaching and realizing what is possible.”
Se’Si’Le, an indigenous-led nonprofit, and the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship plan to display this mural in tribal communities, schools and museums, at the General Assembly in June of the Universalist Unitarians, and at the International Indigenous Salmon Seas Symposium, among other venues. If you wish to show this mural at your events, contact us.