Two traveling totem poles are circulating around various stops throughout the Pacific Northwest including the Fort Hall Reservation on May 18, 2022. The journey is an Indigenous-led effort to raise awareness for the movement to remove the Snake River dams and restore the salmon runs to health. The community is welcome to join us on this special day.
The Spirit of the Waters Totem Pole Journey’s mission is “to inspire, inform, and engage Pacific Northwest communities through intergenerational voices, ceremony, art and science, spirituality, ancestral knowledge, and cross-cultural collaboration.”
Chairman Devon Boyer states, “Our tribe has a longstanding history with advocating for sockeye salmon, and we always include finned-ones, the four-legged and the winged-ones that need our voice in saving them from extinction. The tribes are happy to be part of this journey, we welcome the totem poles and invite the community to join us on this one-day event.”
Several non-profit environmental organizations from the region are partnering with the Idaho, Washington, and Oregon tribes to support Spirit of the Waters for the journey, and are hosting events throughout the tour.
The May 18th schedule includes the following:
10 a.m.-11 a.m. Meet the Tribal Carvers at the Tribal Museum (Exit 80, off I-15)
12 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Media includes a Cultural Welcome by the Fort Hall Business Council & invited dignitaries, a blessing, and songs of prayer; held at the Shoshone-Bannock Casino (outdoors under the casino entrance).
Tribal artists from the House of Tears Carvers of Lummi Nation carved the totem poles that will be transported along the Snake River to the Columbia to the Salish Sea. The Journey will start in Bellingham, Washington, and make stops for events in cities and tribal communities before returning to where it began. The community is welcome to meet the carvers on May 18th from 10AM-11AM at the Tribal Museum (outside).
The tribes have partnered with the Idaho Chapter of the Sierra Club, Idaho Rivers United, Idaho Conservation League and Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition on this event.
“Conservation, clean energy, and fishing advocates are proud to stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities in the Northwest to support this Totem Pole Journey and join their urgent call to restore health to the Snake River, its salmon, and the orcas that depend upon them - and to tribal and non-tribal communities alike,” said Joseph Bogaard, Executive Director of Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition.
"Indigenous communities in Idaho have always been at the forefront of environmental action," said Lisa Young, Director of the Idaho Chapter of the Sierra Club. "This event will be an incredible way to showcase the decades of leadership from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes – in collaboration with numerous tribes from across the Northwest – to save salmon from the brink of extinction and restore the ecosystems and cultures that have been deeply impacted by the species' decline. We are so grateful to be able to support this effort."
“I am constantly inspired by the deep reverence that all of the Salmon-people have these fish and their relationship to our water. While Idaho Rivers United diligently protects and restores these critical resources, our Tribal partners have stewarded these lands for centuries, hold these fish as sacred, and embody the nature of our work. We are proud to help amplify the voices of the tribes and support shifting the paradigm of river conservation back to the inclusion of Indigenous values, beliefs, and practices,” said Nic Nelson executive director of Idaho Rivers United.
“The work of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes has saved sockeye from extinction, but breaching the lower Snake River dams is necessary to restore them to abundance. The time is now for comprehensive solutions that address salmon, orcas, and tribal justice,” said Justin Hayes, the executive director of Idaho Conservation League.
For more information on the journey, visit their website at www.spiritofthewaters.org.