About the Totem Journey

The Healing Totem stands in the middle of the herb garden at the National Library of MedicineThe NLM Healing Totem is intended to promote good health in keeping with the mission of the doctors and scientists who work at the National Institutes of Health to advance our knowledge of health and medicine.

The Totem process began in 2010, with the selection of a 500-year-old red cedar by Master Carver Jewell Praying Wolf James. James used a combination of traditional and modern techniques to carve and paint the totem. Following a blessing at the historic Lummi village site of Semiahmoo (25 miles north of Bellingham, Washington), the finished totem was transported on a truck across the United States, stopping for tribal blessings on reservations in 13 states. In October 2011, the healing totem was erected as part of a traditional Lummi blessing ceremony in the herb garden at the front of the National Library of Medicine, on the campus of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Journey Schedule

Event Date Location
September 12, 2011 Bellingham, WA
September 13, 2011 Seattle Center, Seattle, WA
September 15, 2011 Flathead, MT
September 17, 2011 Pine Ridge, SD
September 19, 2011 Standing Rock, ND
September 20, 2011 Fort Totten, ND
September 21, 2011 White Earth Reservation, MN
September 22, 2011 Ho-Chunk Reservation, WI
September 24, 2011 Chicago, IL
September 26, 2011 Onondaga, NY
September 28, 2011 Mohegan, CT
September 30, 2011 Arrow Park, NY
October 5, 2011 Bethesda, MD

6 thoughts on “About the Totem Journey

  1. I visited the herb garden today and noticeced that a large rectangular trench is being dug at the far end. In the middle of the trench, there is a cylindrical implant. I’m imagining that the totem will go into the cylinder. Over the 15 years that I have been employed at NLM, I have visited the herb garden regularly. The healing totem will be an appropriate addition, since American Indians use herbs in their healing. I have always admired American Indian traditions, and have participated in the NLM Pow-wow outreach program. The symbolic emphasis of women as healers and herb gatherers in Indian society is especially important to me, because my great-grandmothers were both herbalists in Russia and Poland.
    My excitement about the coming of the totem to NLM is building as each day passes.

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