Exhibition by the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation and The Natural History Museum
Kwel’ Hoy: We Draw the Line is a cross-country tour, traveling museum exhibition, and series of public programs uplifting Indigenous leadership in struggles to protect water, land, and our collective future.
For more than a decade, the House of Tears Carvers and members of the Lummi Nation have traveled across North America with totem poles to raise awareness about threats to the environment and public health. As the poles travel, they draw a line between dispersed but connected concerns, and help to build unprecedented alliances of tribal and non-tribal communities as they stand together to advocate for a sustainable relationship between humanity and the natural world.
First staged at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 2018 and redesigned for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in 2021, Kwel’ Hoy features video, audio, and interactive components, as well as the totem pole carved for the year’s Totem Pole Journey. The totem poles were paired with a series of Story Poles, vertically stacked shipping crates displaying objects selected by tribal leaders and community members living along the Totem Pole Journey route. From a sacred pipe used in ceremonies to a sample of coal ash from coal trains that have contaminated the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River, the mix of objects in these displays were accompanied by audio interviews that conveyed the personal stories of climate justice and injustice that these items symbolized.
Linking the museum in a chain of solidarity with Indigenous Peoples across the country, Kwel’ Hoy stands as a powerful bridge between the museum of natural history and the communities that are working hardest, in the words of the American Alliance of Museums’ Code of Ethics, “to foster an informed appreciation of the rich and diverse world we have inherited….[and to] preserve that inheritance for posterity.”
Around the world, Indigenous communities have taken a leading role in grassroots movements to protect water, land, and our collective future. This exhibition introduces visitors to the values and concerns guiding Indigenous-led environmentalism, testifying to the resilience and courage of Native communities today.read more...