To the sound of traditional Lummi Nation songs and blessings(http://www.lummi-nsn.org/website/index2.html) , on Monday, September 12, the NLM Health and Healing Totem heads out on its 4,477-mile cross-country journey from Semiahmoo, WA, to the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD. The Health and Healing totem will reside in the NLM Herb Garden as a prominent feature of the Library’s Native Voices exhibition, opening October 6.
Among those gathered at the journey-opening Healing Totem Pole Blessing at Semiahmoo Park, Cannery Lodge (the home of the Lummi Nation), will be Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., NLM Director, Jewell Praying Wolf James, the master carver of the NLM Totem, and Kurt Russo, Director of the Native American Land Conservancy.
Lummi Nation Canoe off Shipyard Cove from the Lummi Nation
(Photo – Capt. Richard J. Rodriguez)
Known as the “People of the Sea,” the Lummi are an independent Salish Indian tribe, and the original inhabitants of Washington’s northernmost Puget Sound coast and Canada’s southern British Columbia. They have lived in the region for more than 5,000 years.
In pre-colonial times, the Lummi migrated with the seasons. They fished for salmon in the summer, hunted — and gathered shellfish, plants and berries at sites up and down Puget Sound. They wintered in village longhouses, typically built of red cedar from the surrounding forests.
With the conclusion in 1855 of the controversial Point Elliott Treaty (signed by Washington Territory governor Isaac Stevens, the Lummi chief Chow-its-hoot, Chief Sealth (or Seattle), of the powerful Duwamish and Suquamish people, and Snoqualimie leader Chief Patkanim), the Lummi moved to their current reservation. The latter includes lands along the Lummi Peninsula and Portage Island.
Although the early years of contact were peaceful, ensuing resentment and unrest between the Native peoples and new settlers lasted for many years. Some areas of Native resentment included: disregard for some elements of the Treaty, the banishment of traditional practices and suppression of Native spirituality, and the forced relocation of children and young persons to boarding schools.
Despite some uneven history, the Lummi (similar to other Salish peoples) believe the healing of past hurts is a call common to all communities. A reflection of this is captured in the Healing Totem Pole, which leaves the Lummi reservation on Monday September 12. The Healing Totem travels 100 miles to Seattle. From there to its new home in the NLM Herb Garden, it will stop at eleven more Native American reservations and other sites rich in historic significance.