SANDPOINT—The 2016 totem pole tour of the Lummi Nation’s House of Tears Carvers is underway across the western United States and Canada.
For the past three years, the group has handcrafted a special totem pole and hauled it along the route of the coal exports, stopping in communities on the way to raise awareness about the risks to the tribe’s way of life, as well as to communities along the route, if giant coal terminals are built on the West Coast.
The goal of the group is to defeat proposed fossil fuel export projects while laying the foundation for a broad-based alliance on future issues of common concern related to fossil fuels and climate change.
This is the first time the Lummis and their master carver, Jewell James have brought one of their special totem poles to Sandpoint, a city that could be great impacted by increased coal and oil train traffic.
The totem pole will stop from 9 to 11 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 28, at Sandpoint City Beach, 58 Bridge St., Sandpoint. A blessing ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. with special guest speakers from the tribe, local environmental and faith organizations and municipalities.
The 22-foot ceremonial totem pole will be on display until 11 a.m. before it is packed up and group members begin their journey to Winnipeg, Manitoba, their final destination.
The journey follows the May 9, 2016, decision of the Army 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.
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. 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 on the region.
Information: www.idahoconservation.org, or 1-208-265-9565