In 2013, the Lummi people of the Northwest began a totem pole journey in protest to a 50 million ton coal export terminal which had been proposed to be placed on their land. Since then, the yearly, two-week tour (called the Red Road to D.C.) has traveled to both Native and non-Native lands to honor and empower communities who are facing environemntal racism and destruction from fossil fuel industries.
“These journeys have strengthened and expanded alliances between tribes, intertribal organizations, the faith-based community, environmentalists and community leaders by speaking to the moral conscience of culturally diverse communities. They united and raised the voices of diverse communities that have been steadfast in their resistance to further destruction of the Earth. They called on us to take ownership for the sanctity of the air, land, water and wildlife and to exercise our shared responsibility over the restoration, protection and preservation of these gifts,” their website states. (https://redroadtodc.org)
The 25-foot-long, 5,000-pound totem pole is carried on a flatbed trailer. This year’s stops included Bears Ears in Utah, the Black Hills in South Dakota, the Standing Rock Reservation in North/South Dakota, and White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, among other stops.
On July 29, the totem pole arrived in Washington D.C. and was displayed in front of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian for two days.