By Richard Jehn, Journey Chronicler
In Seattle on August 25th, a profound event took place in St. Mark’s Cathedral on Capitol Hill, owing to the setting for the event and the phenomenal organization of all the people involved with planning the event. The mural that was drawn during Totem Journey 2015 was hung behind the altar in the cathedral, to striking effect. And the echoing inside the building added to the drama and magic of the gathering. Over 400 people were in attendance and were treated to plates full of information.
The totem pole was parked immediately outside the doors to the cathedral and the events began with a smudging of the pole by Lummi elders, Linda Sorriano and Randy Peters.
The Seattle Peace Choir provided music that poignantly bookmarked the entire event, including an inspiring marching song during the closing of the ceremonies.
A key development came from the Episcopal Church Authority, expressing their
unconditional support of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. For more information, see this article at the Episcopal News Service.
The event featured presentations by Ken Workman of the Duwamish Tribe, Shasta Cano-Martin, Secretary of the Lummi Indian Business Council, Chief Phil Lane, Jr., Hereditary Chief of the White Swan Dakotas, Tarika Powell, Senior Research Associate for the Sightline Institute, Father Patrick J. Twohy, a Jesuit Priest, Jewell Praying Wolf James, a Lummi Nation elder and the Master Carver of the Lummi House of Tears Carvers, and LeeAnne Beres, the Executive Director of Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power and Light.
Jewell Praying Wolf James explained all the elements of the totem to us at the request of an audience member. From the top of the pole, the first element is the all-seeing eagle, who provides the leadership; the second element is the full moon on the chest of the eagle, where in the eastern sky as the moon rises one can see an Indian sitting with his legs crossed and bowed head with two feathers; the third element is Father Sky; the fourth element on the left side of the totem is the sitting bear, for strength and endurance in the struggle of life; the fifth element on the right side of the totem next to the bear is the wolf who scouts and reports danger; between them is the spear, but neither bear nor wolf touch the spear, reflecting that they are in peace and harmony; the sixth element is a cluster of four white buffalo with white coat, pink around their lips, noses, and eyes, and red pupil of the eye; the seventh element is the medicine wheel, the four quadrants being painted red, black, yellow, and white to represent all peoples; the eighth element at the bottom left of the pole is the pipe carrier ready to start a prayer and come in peace; the ninth element at the bottom right of the pole is the warrior on the peyote trail, representing the over 10,000-year-old church; and all of the bottom elements of the pole are surrounded by the green of Mother Earth. The wing for the totem pole has one figure on each side, the prayer flute player on one side and the love flute player on the other. The wing will be mounted behind the eagle.
Following the formalities inside St. Mark’s Cathedral, the audience was invited to come outside to the pole to bless the pole, sending personal prayers with the journey for healing for the Earth and love, compassion, and empathy for all of Earth’s creatures. Also, the audience was invited to stay and visit with free donuts from a local vendor, and other foods provided by a couple of Seattle food trucks. As people mingled and connected, the energy of the crowd was intense and serene.
The event was co-hosted by St. Mark’s Cathedral, Earth Ministry, and the Sierra Club. Jessica Dye of Earth Ministry was the key organizer and had invaluable assistance from Susan Nicoll of St. Marks. Caleb Heeringa represented the Sierra Club and many others donated their valuable time for a remarkable event.