About the Journey

Welcome to the Totem Pole Journey website!
It is in this sacred space that we continue to post notes, photos, audio and video files from the Totem Pole Journeys.

The 2016 Totem Pole Journey will be underway very soon, just a matter of days! Dispatches while the crew is on the road will be posted on the Dispatches from the Journey. Each Blessing stop will have it’s own page that will display the photos, videos, audio and writings taken and produced during that stop.

In the meantime:
To view the 2015 Totem Pole Journey Archive, click here.
To view the 2014 Totem Pole Journey Archive, click here.
To view the 2013 Totem Pole Journey Archive, click here.

2016 Totem Pole Journey 

On August 23, the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation will begin a 5,000-mile trip across the western United States and Canada with a 22-foot long totem pole to bring attention to proposed fossil fuel terminals, oil trains, coal trains, and oil pipelines and the threat they pose to tribes and local communities.

TPJ-ready set go Almost ready!

About the Totem Pole

The 22-foot western red cedar totem pole will be carved and donated by Master Carver Jewell James of the Lummi Tribe. The final destination will be Winnipeg, to bear witness to the need for all peoples to work together in the name of our common humanity and our covenant with Mother Earth. The totem pole will have a bald eagle with wings spread on top with a Medicine Wheel on its chest. Below it will be a buffalo skull and, below that, a wolf on one side of the pole and a coyote on the other. Below them will be an Indian Chief with a War Bonnet facing a Medicine Man and sharing a Peace Pipe with smoke rising from the pipe.



  • Strengthen and expand alliances between tribes, intertribal organizations, the faith-based community, NGO’s, and community leaders in the Pacific Northwest and Canada that are opposed to the proposed export of fossil fuels from the Oregon, Washington, and western Canada.
  • Educate the general public and shape the narrative on this issue through scheduled events and informational material, radio and television coverage, and social media.
  • Promote a “get out the vote” message, to include distributing informational material at the scheduled events.
  • Strengthen and expand the network of coalition partners to help address the issue of climate change.


1. Public Events: The Lummi Nation for the past three years has been cultivating relations and alliances across the PNW and Canada. This year’s journey will draw on, expand, and energize those alliances in what will, for several reasons, be the culminating year on this issue.

First, the journey follows the May 9, 2016 decision of the Corps of Engineers to deny the permit for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal terminal at Cherry Point based on its potential impacts on the treaty fishing rights of the Lummi Nation. While this may seem a victory, SSA Marine has announced it will appeal the decision.  Then regardless of the Corps decision on the appeal, it will likely head into the courts.  The outcome will have a significant impact on tribal and local communities.

Second, the new, and just as significant, threat to the Lummi and other tribes is the dramatic increase in fossil fuels from the Bakken oil fields in the United States and the Alberta tar sands oil fields that is now reaching a crescendo. Already, movement has begun for expanding existing oil and gas export industries and new proposals for pipelines that would run through/to Cherry Point.  If the proposed expansions are approved it could mean up to a tenfold increase in fossil fuel exports from Washington State and British Columbia. It would also mean a significant increase in oil trains and additional tanker traffic in the Salish Sea. The transport, storage, and eventual shipment to China of these products would create a major threat to environmental and community health, and to the way of life of the Native peoples across the region.  That story, too, needs to reach the largest possible audience.

Third, It’s critical to keep the issue before the general public given the legislative initiatives of the project proponents to circumvent the treaties.

Fourth, the journey will take place in the months before the 2016 election, the results of which will have a direct impact on the ultimate outcome of the fossil fuels export initiatives.

2. Shaping the Narrative: According to the most recent polls the public in the PNW remains divided on the issue of fossil fuels exports. Meanwhile, the project proponents are undertaking at the local and regional level a public relations campaign to support their fossil fuel export projects. It is important to keep shaping the narrative on this issue. The journey will serve that purpose through events that will include informational material to be widely distributed; through its media team that will facilitate interviews and articles in local and regional television and radio and; through social media outlets and the totem pole journey website..

3. Get Out the Vote: A key element of each event will be informational material about the 2016 elections, and where the candidates stand on the issue of fossil fuel export. This information will be made available at the events along with other information that will help generate participation in the 2016 election.

4. Coalitions on Climate Change: The campaign to defeat the fossil fuel projects has led to a powerful and unprecedented coalition of tribes, NGO’s, and the faith-based community across Canada and the United States. The Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office of the Lummi Nation is committed to galvanizing this coalition and, after the journey, continuing the work with our partners to bring attention to, and help to address, the larger issue of climate change.