Healing pole begins Pennsylvania journey

Published on Thu, Aug 28, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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Healing pole begins Pennsylvania journey

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

A 13-foot, one ton healing pole created by Lummi Nation carvers has started its cross-country journey to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001.

The pole left Blaine on Tuesday, after the Lummi, several veterans groups, and other community members participated in a ceremony at Semiahmoo. According to David Hillaire, Lummi Nation chairman, Semiahmoo was a fitting location for the healing pole to depart from.

�This is an appropriate place,� Hillaire said. �The prayers here will carry across the country. You are all witnesses to the beginning of this healing journey.�

Semiahmoo was the site of a Lummi burial disturbance in 2001. The city of Blaine began construction work on its wastewater treatment facility and in the process disturbed native remains, that to this day, are still being sifted through. Only 40 percent of the remains have been evaluated.

�We have not forgotten that pain,� Hillaire said, noting September 11 was painful for the Lummi nation, America and the world. �We want healing in this city, this world. We want to help in the healing process.�

Ernest Stull, mayor of Shanksville Pennsylvania, was at the ceremony and thanked the Lummi Nation for their meaningful gift. �They (Lummi) have opened their arms to us,� he said. �The pole represents our people coming together and I�m sure everyone (in Shanksville) will be pleased. I am overwhelmed by the goodness.�

The mayor said thousands of people have come to his community in Pennsylvania to pay tribute to those lost on September 11, and now the Lummi nation, representing both Indian and American worlds, are paying tribute in a most generous way.

Many spoke of the recent book, Flight 93: Amongst the Heros, and recalled some of the last words to come from some of the victims mouths. �Let�s roll, they said. They made the choice to take control of their own destiny,� said Aaron Thomas, Lummi director of public affairs. �They made the choice not to hurt us. They already knew what happened at the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. They were committed to change the future, and we want to honor them in the best way we know how.�

From Blaine, the pole traveled to Seattle, and is now on its way to Shanksville, where it will arrive in time for the September 11 memorial. The pole involved the carving of several Lummi people, including elders and children. The youngest to participate was 16 months, and the oldest was 84. The pole itself is a 650-year-old cedar tree recently logged on Lummi land � a new Lummi school will be built there.

Jewell James, a Lummi carver who helped lead the project, said it was wonderful to work with the children on the project. �You had to see these little children working on these poles,� he said. �They have a Lummi heart and they want to please people. As children, they love without discrimination or hatred or anger.�

Jewell also spoke to the many veterans at the ceremony. �Heroes come in many ways. Firemen, policemen, doctors. But the soldiers and veterans are most visible in our minds and in our hearts,� he said.

James and Marian Wetzel, from Richland, Washington were also at the ceremony. �September 11 hit us hard and I�ll be here to do what I can,� he said.

James was a childhood friend of Mayor Stull�s and served in the military for almost 20 years. �I remember cutting his (the mayor�s) mom and dad�s grass and buying cars. We go way back,� Wetzel joked. �So when he asked me to be here, I said of course.�

Last year, Lummi Nation carvers sent a healing pole to New York City, in memorial of those who were lost and those who served during the attacks in New York. And next year, the Lummi will send another healing pole to the Pentagon site in Washington, D.C.