Guest blog – Installation of the Healing Totem at NLM

The totem pole is lifted from the flatbed truck, suspended horizontally. Bethesda, MD (October 2, 2011) – The healing totem was raised in the herb garden in front of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Some clouds and rain did not dampen the spirit and enthusiasm of the people that gathered to bring the healing totem to its final home. The installation included those who traveled with the healing totem during its 5,000 mile journey to NLM and persons who attended to welcome the totem to NLM .

The totem is lifted upright with a crane.

The day started early in the morning with the arrival of the NLM Exhibitions Program team, NLM Building Operations, and the Bonsai Fine Arts installation crew who began preparing the site for the installation.  Joining with the artist, Jewell James and his team, the fine arts installation crew carefully prepared the healing totem for removal from the truck.  The totem was wrapped in blankets to protect its painted and carved surface, strapped securely, and with the help of a 95 foot crane slowly lifted from its horizontal position on the truck to a vertical upright position.

The totem is moved over the herb garden under a cloudy sky.

It looked beautiful against the blue and cloudy sky.  Then, the totem was carefully walked across the herb garden, positioned above its metal bracket, and slowly lowered into place.

Following the placement of the healing totem, a prayer ceremony was held for all who were part of the journey and a part of the installation of the totem.  A prayer was given by Emerson Gorman asking permission of the ground and the spirits to place the healing totem on this spot.

A sense of peace, happiness and completion was felt by all who attended and participated.  The healing totem’s journey came full circle from its beginnings in Semiahmoo, Washington to its final home at NLM.

participants stand around the totem, standing on its base during a prayer ceremony.

Prayer ceremony after the healing totem installation.

a group of people pose in front of the totem

Artist Jewell James with the NLM Exhibition Program staff, NLM Building Operations, Bonsai and Fine Arts Specialists installation crew.

Jill Newmark
Exhibition Registrar
National Library of Medicine
Photos by Deshaun Williams


3 thoughts on “Guest blog – Installation of the Healing Totem at NLM

  1. My mom Evelyn p. Raines was part of this ceremony , with the drum group , & I’m extremely proud of her & the cause ! Thank you chuck early

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