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The House of Tears Carvers at the Lummi Nation will carve and transport the 24-foot totem pole from Washington state to Washington, D.C., stopping along the way at “twenty of the country’s Native-led struggles where sacred lands, waters, and wildlife are imperiled by dams, climate change, and extractive industries,” according to the website for the “Red Road to DC,” the name of the journey.
The trip will begin at the Lummi Nation outside of Bellingham, Wash., on May 25 and make stops at the Nez Perce traditional lands, Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, the Black Hills in South Dakota, the crossing of the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Missouri River and more.
The totem pole, made out of a 400-year-old red cedar, will be featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian this fall, The Seattle Times reported.
The head carver at House of Tears Carvers and Lummi tribal member Jewell Praying Wolf James said he and fellow carvers, age 4 to 70, began carving the pole over the winter, according to the Times. The figures on the totem pole include a Chinook salmon, a wolf, a bear, an eagle and more.
James explained the figures in a statement last month, including “Seven Tears” that represent “the past seven generations of Indian Country (in North, Middle, and South Americans) that have been Traumatized by the treatment received from non-Indians as governments and religious Christian societies,” The Times reported.
The totem pole also includes a "Mexican child in a cage," a reference to the children separated from their families in facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The House of Tears Carvers have led totem pole journeys for over a decade to bring attention to causes, the Times reported. It recently led a journey to free an orca from captivity at the Miami Seaquarium, the Times reported.