NLM healing totem journey – about Arrow Park, NY

From its brief stay with the Mohegan, in Connecticut, the NLM Healing Totem made a pilgrimage to Arrow Park in Sterling Forest State Park. Sterling Forest is outside of Monroe, NY, some 38 miles northwest of New York City.

Arrow Park is a private, non-commercial enclave within Sterling Forest that hosts bereavement programs for children, and support programs for the families of 9/11 victims, and Ground Zero recovery workers and their families.

It was here in 2002, that Jewell Praying Wolf James, master carver of the NLM’s Healing Totem, placed one of three memorial totems he carved to commemorate the nation’s worst-ever terrorist attacks. The others stand at the Pentagon, in Arlington, VA, and in Shanksville, PA.

A totem bearing three figures--an eagle, a bear, and a bear cub--stands at the edge of a wooded area

Totem sculpted by Jewell James 2002 (Courtesy of Arrow Park)

The welcoming ceremony for the NLM Healing Totem also celebrated the recent acquisition of 462 acres along the Appalachian Trail to Sterling Forest. At just under 22,000 acres of pristine woodland, deep forest, and sparkling lakes, the park is a remarkable natural refuge in one of the nation’s most densely populated states. It is a sister forest to the Arlecho Creek Forest, sacred to Jewell James’ Lummi Nation, east of Bellingham, WA.

As with the NLM totem, Jewell James carved the Arrow Park memorial totem from a red cedar tree. It stands 13 feet high, weighs about a ton and incorporates various symbolic creatures. An eagle sits atop, representing the male victims of 9/11, while just below is a bear, representing that terrible day’s female casualities. At the base sits a bear cub, symbolic of the children who lost mothers, fathers, other family members, and friends.

Jewell James brought this and the other 9/11 totems east on a journey similar to the NLM Healing totem, including pole-blessings at diverse reservations across the country.

A still lake at sunset

Lake View: Sterling Forest State Park (Courtesy of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation)

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