The Lummi nation visited Whidbey Island last week to show their solidarity with the San Carlos Apache people and their protest against a proposed copper mine on sacred land in Oak Flat, Arizona.
The event was hosted by the Native Connections Initiative of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island. Lummi Nation’s House of Tears Carvers travel the country with a sacred totem pole to raise awareness about issues threatening our nation’s sacred places. They have made these journeys for the past 23 years, including a trek to Washington DC in 2021 for The Red Road to DC Totem Pole Journey to Protect Sacred Sites.
The Feb. 27, 2023 event in Langley was one of many points in the Lummi’s journey comprised of 33 destinations traveling with totem poles blessed with prayers by the indigenous community and friends along the way.
Anne Hayden of UUCWI learned of the planned visit and reached out to Freddie Lane, who is coordinator of the Lummi journey, and helped arrange a welcome ceremony at Healing Circles in Langley. Mayor Scott Chaplin attended the Langley ceremony. Gary Piazzon of Coupeville helped arrange a welcome ceremony there.
Langley City Councilmember Rhonda Salerno attended the event held at Healing Circles in Langley.
She reports: “In spite of the weather both events were well attended. From the moment the day began, Freddie was blessed by a pair of Bald Eagles, which first appeared at the Lummi Reservation to send him off, then at Coupeville and again in Langley, where one eagle remained perched above for the entire 45 minute ceremony. It was quite an auspicious blessing, as about 70 people showed up in Coupeville and another 70 in Langley to support the effort of the Totem Pole Journey and the plight of the San Carlos Apache Tribe to protect their sacred land.
“Insufficient funding for repairing a flatbed trailer and insurance kept the totem pole itself from making the journey last week. Instead, an Eagle Staff created by Lummi Richard Solomon was the focus of the Prayer Ceremonies on February 27. The Lummi delegation is beginning another journey with the pole and are bringing it to Whidbey Island on their way south, as they had promised.”
Another event is planned Saturday, March 11 at Callen’s Restaurant in Coupeville. A three-person Lummi delegation will travel to the Olympic Peninsula to join the Skippers Meeting for the 2023 Tribal Canoe Journey with the Lower Elwha Klallam Nation. The Lummi delegation will continue south for more blessings and fundraising for the effort to stop the Oak Flat mine and protect sacred places in time for a hearing at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California on March 21. From there they will continue to Oak Flat and other sites.
The Lummis have created a fundraising website to support their efforts. To learn more, click here.
Meanwhile, Rhonda Salerno noted in a March 6 email that an Arizona congressman authored the following bill to protect Oak Flat from a proposed copper mine. House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) announced the introduction of the Save Oak Flat From Foreign Mining Act to permanently protect Tonto National Forest’s Chí’chil Biłdagoteel Historic District, also known as Oak Flat, from foreign mining operations that would desecrate the area and destroy its tribal cultural and religious heritage sites.
To learn more about Oak Flat and it’s importance to the San Carlos Apache people, visit this link.