Red Road to DC: A Totem Pole Journey for the Protection of Sacred Places

Jun. 30, 2021 - Jul. 29, 2021

As record-breaking heat waves and floods ravage our continent, we join members of the Lummi Nation for a coast to coast expedition, transporting a 25-foot, hand-carved and painted totem pole from Washington State to Washington D.C., visiting many sacred and historic places under threat from dams, climate change, and resource extraction.

This is the Red Road to DC: a touring series of ceremonies, public events, media projects, and campaigns culminating in a rally on the National Mall and an exhibition developed by The Natural History Museum and the House of Tears Carvers at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

From the Salish Sea to the Snake River, Chaco Canyon to the Black Hills, Anishnaabe lands in Minnesota to Standing Rock in South Dakota, the totem pole carries the spirit of the lands it visits, and the power and prayers of those who encounter it. The journey draws lines of connection—honoring and uniting the Native Nations and communities leading struggles to protect sacred places—and it also draws a line against an understanding of development that is pushing the world toward extinction.

On July 29th we will deliver the pole, along with the prayers, power, and demands it carries, to the Biden-Harris Administration. The totem pole offers a vision for a “monument to the protection of sacred places and a way of relating to the land.”  It stands as a symbol of the promises made to the first peoples of these lands and waters, and our collective ancestral obligation to care for the natural world for the generations to come.

In acknowledgement of past and present injustices inflicted on Native Peoples and lands without consent, and in the context of the climate and extinction crises, the Red Road to DC invites all of us to take a stand with those who are leading movements to protect sacred places. Our collective future depends on it.

Join us!
You can participate online, in person, and by amplifying the message. Please visit the journey site to follow along, sign the petition to protect sacred places, make a donation, and sign up for updates.



House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation have created more than 15 totem pole journeys over 20 years, covering more than 60,000 miles as they traveled to communities across North America facing threats to natural and cultural heritage, tribal sovereignty, public health, and the climate.

Se’Si’Le is the Lummi language term for our grandmother. Respect for elders is central to Native life: to acknowledge Grandmother Earth is to invoke ancestral and cultural power. Se’Si’Le reintroduces Indigenous spiritual law into the mainstream conversation about climate change and the environment.

Native Organizers Alliance (NOA) is dedicated to building the organizing capacity of tribes, organizers and community groups for transformational policy change. It also provides a forum for Native leaders, organizers and organizations to work in collaboration with each other and promote their work with non-Native national allies.

The Natural History Museum (NHM) leverages the power of history, museums, monuments, and movements to change narratives, build alliances, educate the public and drive civic engagement in support of community-led movements for climate and environmental justice. To learn more visit

IllumiNative is building an innovative organizational network that fosters meaningful participation from a diverse and committed collective of Native storytellers, artists, youth, organizers, tribal and grassroots leaders as well as non-Native partners in entertainment, media and social justice.


Our Last Refuge: The Fight to Protect Badger-Two Medicine – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 8, 2021 online

The Badger-Two Medicine is the sacred homeland of the Blackfeet Nation. It is home to their creation story, and has been a place of refuge and healing for 10,000 years. This virtual event will open with a screening of “Our Last Refuge”, a short film that tells the story of the Badger-Two Medicine and the decades-long struggle to protect it from the incursion of oil and gas, followed by a discussion with Native leaders and community organizers who are working to defend the Badger-Two Medicine, not only as an important wildlife sanctuary, but also as an intermediary to Blackfeet spiritual power.

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Protect Thacker Pass – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 13, 2021 online

The Atsa Koodakuh wyh Nuwu (People of Red Mountain) are a committee of traditional knowledge keepers and members of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe who are working to oppose the proposed Thacker Pass Lithium Mine on their ancestral homelands and to protect Peehee Mu’huh (Thacker Pass).

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Salish Sea – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 14, 2021 Lummi Nation, WA

We invite you to join the House of Tears Carvers and our partners for the launch of “The Red Road to DC: A Totem Pole Journey for the Protection of Sacred Places” — a touring series of ceremonies, public events, media projects, and campaigns culminating in a rally on the National Mall and an exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

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Snake River – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 15, 2021 Washington & Idaho

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia & Snake Rivers and their tributaries, once the greatest salmon rivers in the world. We can do this by removing four outdated and expensive dams on the lower Snake River. For too long these dams have impeded the rights of Nez Perce and other Northwest First Peoples to exercise Traditional Fishing Treaty Rights. The federal government promised the Nez Perce People the right to hunt and fish in their usual and accustomed places as part of the 1855 Treaty. The promise was broken. It’s time to right this wrong

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Bears Ears – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 17, 2021 Utah

Monument designation of Bears Ears will be the first step in righting the wrongs of the past and halting the continued destruction. Ecological resilience is strongest in places that are the least disturbed and most biodiverse. Bears Ears is a resilient landscape. Navajo people have a term for such places of ecological rejuvenation: we call them Nahodishgish, or “places to be left alone.” These intact landscapes are thought to be the healthiest of all lands, from which plants and animals spread and repopulate surrounding lands. There are few places left on earth that the hand of man has not scarred. Bears Ears is one such place, where healing of the earth can begin

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Chaco Canyon – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 18, 2021 New Mexico

Chaco Canyon and the surrounding landscape is culturally significant to the Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Zuni, Ute, and Pueblo peoples. While ancient sites, kivas, and great houses inside the park’s boundaries are protected, the overwhelming majority of Greater Chaco lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are leased for oil and gas development — impacting the sacred landscape, air, people, and the living culture of the region.

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Black Hills – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 21, 2021 South Dakota

The Black Hills were the casualty of one of the most blatant land grabs in U.S. history and continue to be the site of a legal and political confrontation. To the Lakota, they are Paha Sapa, ‘the heart of everything that is.’ “Colonization is the oldest form of white supremacy, and America is being called out and called up to acknowledge that. Mount Rushmore is yet another symbol of white supremacy and colonization, and until it is returned to the Lakota, we will continue to oppose it and fight for justice.”

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Missouri River – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 22, 2021 South Dakota

Dakota/Lakota/Nakota communities are working to pass a resolution recognizing the sovereignty and rights of the Mni Sosa (Missouri River.) Traditional leaders want to restore the Ihanktonwan inherent Indigenous rights to be caretakers of the land and water of the region—a model for advancing tribal sovereignty in environmental and cultural protection through braiding thousands of years of knowledge and contemporary science to exercise the legal and inherent right to govern in the interests of humanity.

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Standing Rock – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 24, 2021 7 - 9:30 am PDT North Dakota

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s struggle to protect sacred waters, lands, and treaty territories continues to this day. While the Biden administration issued an executive order canceling the Keystone XL pipeline upon taking office, it has not taken a similar stance on DAPL. The pipeline continues to flow while a court-ordered environmental review moves forward. DAPL violates Indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights and has failed to abide by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which requires free and prior informed consent.

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White Earth – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 25, 2021 4 – 8 pm CDT Minnesota

This territory is the headwaters of the Red River and the Mississippi River; the territory of the Great Lakes. The current concern is that the Canadian corporation, Enbridge, is proposing a new route for their Line 3 pipeline replacement across a pristine water-rich environment. The lakes, streams, wetlands, and the Mississippi River would all be at risk. Line 3 is a clear danger to the climate, water, and land in Minnesota, and would undermine the Indigenous treaty rights of the Anishinaabe people.

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Save The Confluence: Safeguarding The Little Colorado River – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 26, 2021 Online @ 5pm PT / 6pm MT / 8pm ET

The confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers in the Grand Canyon has been a place of deep cultural significance since time immemorial for 11 associated tribes. In this #RedRoadtoDC “virtual journey” event, we will hear from Diné families who are working to stop three proposed hydroelectric dams that threaten tribal sovereignty and sacred cultural and historic sites.

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Mackinaw City – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 27, 2021 9 am EDT Michigan

Join us for the last Red Road to DC  blessing ceremony and community-based event before our arrival in Washington DC. This event is hosted by the Bay Mills Indian Community and is dedicated to the protection of sacred sites and the waters of the Straits of Mackinac — threatened by the proposed Enbridge Line 5 pipeline.

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Washington D.C. – #RedRoadtoDC

Jul. 29, 2021 - Jul. 30, 2021 Washington DC

After thousands of miles traveled and dozens of events across the country on the Red Road to DC Totem Pole Journey for the Protection of Sacred Places, we come to the final stop. Join us on the National Mall for a ceremony and rally featuring tribal leaders, Native and allied organizers, and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

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