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COURTESY OF LUMMI NATION - Shared Responsibility totem pole created by Lummi Nation carvers is loaded for shipment during 2014 tour. Critics of proposed Northwest coal export facilities have tried letter-writing, mass rallies, lobbying and testifying at public meetings.


Now they’re trying a totem pole.

Carvers from the Washington-based Lummi Nation created a 22-foot totem pole they call Shared Responsibilities. Tribal leaders, supported by environmental and other civic groups, will take it on tour to highlight their opposition to a proposed coal export terminal at Xwe'chi'eXen, or Cherry Point, Wash., their ancestral site and traditional fishing grounds.

“We are all the promise keepers. We can, and must, stop this madness,” said Lummi Master Carver Jewell James. “As one of our elders recently put it: 'The ancestors expect it. The unborn demand it.’ "

Created by the Lummi Nation’s House of Tears Carvers, the totem pole will make stops at each of the proposed coal ports in Oregon and Washington, as well as in tribal communities and places of worship. Its ultimate destination is the Powder River Basin in Montana, where coal companies hope to mine the coal that would be transported via mile-long trains across the Pacific Northwest to ships bound for Asia.

House of Tears Carvers, led by Jewell James, will offer the totem pole as a gift to the Northern Cheyenne people at Otter Creek, the proposed site of a major coal mining expansion.

The tour arrives in Portland on Monday, Aug. 24, with a blessing ceremony at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, 2408 S.E. 16th Ave., from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Protesters expect Mayor Charlie Hales to be in attendance.

The tour begins Aug. 21 in Vancouver, B.C., then continues to Bellingham, Marysville and Longview, Wash., before it stops in Portland. Then Lummi Nation leaders and supporters will hold events in Hood River, Celilo Falls and Boardman, Ore.; Spokane; Missoula, Montana; and then the final destination in Montana.

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