Seattle, WA. Center – (Sept. 13, 2011) – Although I attended other Native American ceremonies, such as pow-pows, a Salmon Homecoming, and a Canoe Welcoming, I never experienced a totem blessing ceremony until this morning.
Kauila Clark, a Traditional Healer from the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, Oahu, Hawaii, performed a moving ceremony using tea leaves to bless the truck making the journey and all the participants. Since the truck is a rental, hopefully the blessing will hold for all future drivers! More than 100 audience members were blessed too – as we gathered to send NLM’s healing totem on its way.
A circle of drummers welcomed guests. Visitors to the large Seattle Center (home of a World’s Fair in the 1960s) could find the event just by following the sound of the drums.
It was a treat to see how the tree for the totem was chosen, which was described in a video. The latter included some of the prayers for the selected red cedar that was about to fall in the Mt. Baker Forest. Watching the beautiful singing and a steady drum beat was a highlight for me. The cedar tree still smells fresh and strong, and as I learned in the video, its life is not over – a new life is beginning.
Ralph Forquera, Executive Director, Seattle Indian Health Board, noted Native collaboration with the National Library of Medicine is a way to share knowledge that has been passed down through the ages, but kept within Indian culture.
Both Forquera and the video emphasized that a human bond with nature is an important part of traditional health. Both noted that healing cannot be achieved if a connection with nature is broken. Certainly, the totem reminds us of nature and reconnects us.
It was impressive to see different tribes and groups of people come together to create NLM’s new healing totem. The contributions of many persons according to their abilities provide a model to live our lives in harmony.
Patricia Devine MLS
Network Outreach Coordinator
National Network of Libraries of Medicine – Pacific Northwest Region