“The totem pole journey does not draw a new line as much as it traces over one that already exists, making it visible. This line runs through the rocks, through the trees, through the sky, through the oceans. It is also a line that runs from the past to the present, and into the future.”
Narrated by Freddie Lane (Lummi), this short film by The Natural History Museum introduces the ways of seeing, understanding, and relating to the land, water and air that guide the work of the House of Tears Carvers, a collective of carvers from the Lummi Nation. Over the last 20 years, the House of Tears Carvers have traveled across North America with hand-carved totem poles to raise awareness about threats to the environment and public health, visiting Indigenous communities, farmers and ranchers, scientists, and faith-based communities for public events steeped in ancestral knowledge and prayer. At each blessing ceremony, participants are invited to lay hands on the totem pole—to give it their prayers and power, and to receive its power in turn. The Totem Pole Journeys draw lines of connection between communities on the frontlines of environmental struggle, forging a broad alliance of tribal and non-tribal communities who stand together to advocate for a sustainable relationship between humanity and the natural world.