Semiahmoo, WA. (September 13, 2011) – While Jewell James was smaller than I expected, the number of persons who worked on NLM’s healing totem was much larger.
About 30 Lummi tribe members and as many guests carved NLM’s healing totem. The House of Tears Carvers provides the vision, design, and fine craftsmanship. However, the bulk of the work is surprisingly communal.
Jewel James was especially proud of the assistance of Lummi children. About eight kids, ages 4-12, attended the public debut of NLM’s healing totem which was trucked to the Cannery Lodge at Semiahmoo Park around 10:30 pacific time on September 12.
Jewell explained after the ceremony that many more children worked on the healing totem. He wished all could have attended the blessing and ceremony when the healing totem was formally presented to NLM.
‘The kids could not get out of school,’ Jewell laughed. In his remarks during the ceremony, Jewell noted among the multi-purposes of public art projects, such as the NLM healing and other totems from the House of Tears Carvers in the Lummi nation, is to encourage children to participate.
Jewell told ceremony attendees he adores the spontaneous energy and creativity that occurs when kids get a chance to work with their elders on a 20 foot healing totem.
About 60 persons attended the ceremony on Lummi traditional land. Today, the area is a pleasant public park and resort area across a modest harbor from White Rock, British Columbia. From about 1910-1975, Semiahmoo served as a high throughput salmon cannery. The current Lummi reservation is about a 20 minute drive away.
While Lummi tribal witnesses noted the healing symbolism of the totem pole serves Native People’s and a larger nation, the presence and enthusiasm of kids was infectious.
The totem is much younger than I expected.