A tribe is transporting a totem pole through the Northwest to protest coal- export terminals.
PORTLAND — A Native-American tribe is taking a 22-foot totem pole from Canada through the Pacific Northwest to Montana in opposition of proposed coal-export terminals.
A team from the Lummi Nation, from Washington’s Puget Sound, started the journey on Friday. The pole will travel more than 1,300 miles by truck, from Vancouver, B.C., to Missoula, with multiple stops in Washington and Oregon.
Its journey includes blessing ceremonies at each of the proposed coal ports and in tribal communities and houses of worship along the oil-train route.
The totem pole is destined for Montana’s Otter Creek Valley, the location of a proposed coal-mining expansion that would serve the Pacific Northwest terminals.
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The Lummi Nation and other tribes are against building coal-export terminals at Cherry Point near Bellingham, in Longview, and at the Port of Morrow on the Columbia River.
Cherry Point encompasses the Lummi Nation’s ancestral sites and traditional fishing grounds.
The projects would export millions of tons of coal annually to Asia. The tribes say the terminals would disrupt treaty-protected fishing rights, contaminate air and water and harm sacred sites.
The totem pole was created by the House of Tears Carvers at the Lummi Nation. It took four months for a team to create it, said the tribe’s master carver Jewell James.