The Story of the Lummi Totem Pole

There's more to the Lummi totem pole than meets the eye. At a time when Americans asked themselves "What can I do?" in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, Lummi artist Jewell Praying Wolf James decided to carve a totem pole to heal New York. From the small fishing tribe of 4,000 in the northwest corner of Washington state came the Lummi Healing Pole. After nearly a year of carving, the pole traveled the northern United States last summer on a flatbed trailer toward its final destination in New York.

"In Indian country, sacred ground is common ground," James told The Bellingham Herald. "The pole is a call for unity through prayer and ceremony." It is not an object of worship, said James, but a reminder to pray. "We teach our children to give away their most prized possessions so that they know the joy of giving," said James. The pole was installed in a New York state park on the first anniversary of the attacks, with 250 family members of firefighters who died on Sept. 11 there to receive it.

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