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Lummi totem makes the rounds in Northwest communities

Lauren Paterson/Northwest Public Broadcasting
The young daughter of Anessia Scott interacts with the traveling totem. Anessia, who is a descendant of the Nez Perce and Blackfoot tribes, says she wants her daughter to learn about her heritage and culture.

The Spirit of the Water was carved by members of the Lummi nation.

A totem symbolizing the vital role of salmon is touring the Northwest. Lauren Paterson reports.

Children played and clamored on a colorful totem carved by members of the Lummi Nation in Hells Gate State Park on Monday. The 14-foot carving features orcas and chinook salmon.

The Spirit of the Water Totem is on a 17-day, 2,300 mile journey through Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to raise awareness about the vital role of salmon to tribal communities in the pacific northwest.

Lauren Paterson/Northwest Public Broadcasting
Douglas James and his wife speak to a crowd at Hells Gate State Park.

Lummi Nation member Doug James says the totem draws people together – especially children.

“These are the generations that are going to carry this forward. All we’re doing is planting the seed. So it’s for these little ones that we’re doing what we’re doing. If we don’t step up right now and let our voices, let all your voices be heard, you know, what’s going to be left for the next seven generations?” he said.

Tribal speakers gave speeches advocating for the removal of the lower Snake River Dams and the restoration of salmon habitat.

The totem will make appearances in several cities and tribal lands across the Pacific Northwest. The journey will conclude May 20 at St. Leo’s Parish in Tacoma, Washington.