SUNDAY, AUGUST 28TH – TOTEM POLE JOURNEY BLESSING
Montana is home to the Northern section of the Powder River Basin, a geologic region in Montana and Wyoming that supplies approximately 40% of the coal in the United States. Trains carrying coal from the Powder River Basin travel through Missoula, bisecting the northern part of the city with an east-west rail line. Surrounded by hills and mountains, Missoula is vulnerable to air inversions in the winter months which result in hazardously-low air quality. Particulate matter from coal trains passing through Missoula exacerbate air quality problems, disproportionately imposing health risks on disenfranchised and vulnerable communities who live nearest the rail lines.
Earlier this year, Montana succeeded in stopping the Otter Creek mine, a proposal for the largest new coal strip mine in North America. The Otter Creek mine would have increased coal production in the United States, releasing an estimated 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide in total when burned. Montanans also succeeded in preventing the construction of the Tongue River Railroad, a railroad system dependent on the Otter Creek Mine that would have enabled more coal by rail to travel through Missoula. With constant transportation of coal through Missoula, however, and continual fights against proposed coal export terminals on the Pacific Coast, the fight to protect the safety and well-being of human health, natural resources, and our global climate is ongoing.
~Naomi Price-Lazarus, Stand.earth
Location: Salvation Army of Missoula
355 S. Russell Street
Missoula, Montana, U.S.
Time: 4:00 pm
Inside Remarks and the Totem Story
- Welcome: Loreen Hamilton
- Framing: John Lund
- Context: Betsy Mulligan-Dague
- The Story: James Jewell and the Lummi team
- Response: George Price
Outside Remarks, Gifts and Blessings:
- Hand Washing: Amy Carter and John Daniels (others may step in)
- Remarks: Kathy Little Leaf, Shelly Fyant
- Gift giving: a group of us
- Salish Blessing: Arleen Adams
Dinner will be offered after the presentations and Blessing
By Freddy Lane, Journey Videographer
In Missoula – A Blessing for Our Journey
By Richard Jehn, Journey Chronicler
After an early morning event in Sandpoint, Idaho, we motored to Missoula, Montana for a ceremony at the Salvation Army Church on Russell, hosted by Faith and Climate Action Montana. John Lund of the Emmaus Campus Ministry introduced the event, and Betsy Quamman of Faith and Climate Action spoke powerful words. She reminded us that “[Our activism] is a gift that calls us into compassion.”
Fred Lane and Jewell Praying Wolf James had powerful words for our mission, with the ever-present key objective that we ensure all future human generations are able to continue living in harmony with Mother Earth, something we have become so disconnected from doing in the past two hundred years with the intense advent of industrialization and the gluttonous use of fossil fuels that our ability to rediscover this capability in ourselves may be eternally in question. The speaking event ended with a short presentation from Dr. George Price, a Wampanaog Tribe member who now resides with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe north of Missoula.
We shared a fabulous meal of cole slaw, roasted beets and carrots, roasted potatoes, and braised bison. I lucked out by finding an empty chair next to Dr. Price. I was interested in talking with him about his comments respecting the advent of dominator culture about 5,000-7,000 years ago on the planet. We had a gentle discussion, with promises to get in touch and stay in touch on important topics.
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal members sang songs of blessing and prayer to send with the totem on its long journey to Manitoba, Canada.
I spoke to Kathy Julius after the event. She is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe. When I asked her what she wanted for her children who played nearby, “I just want them to be happy.”
Sunset over Missoula at our departure
Photos by Paul Anderson, Journey Photographer
Two Totem Poles Meet . . .
A brief stop in Billings, Montana, brought together last year’s Totem Pole dedicated to supporting the Northern Cheyenne against the Otter Creek and Tongue River projects, and this year’s Totem Pole dedicated to First Nations communities in Winnipeg, Manitoba.