Snake River Spirit of the Waters Totem Pole Journey Campaign
May/June 2022

Spirit of the Waters Totem

The 2022 Snake River Spirit of the Waters totem pole journey built upon, strengthened and reaffirmed the growing indigenous-led environmental movement across the Pacific Northwest that began with the successful campaign to oppose proposed fossil fuels projects between 2013-2016. 

The goal  of the campaign was to inspire, inform, and engage Pacific Northwest communities through ceremony, art and science, spirituality, ancestral knowledge, and cross-cultural collaboration in support of the indigenous-led movement to remove the Snake River dams and restore to health the Snake River salmon runs and our relatives, the Southern Resident Killer Whales (Skali’Chelh in the Lummi language) that depend on them.


In order to engage the public, inspire and broaden the narrative, and further influence events on the Snake River dam issue it is necessary to engage the intellect, emotion, and imagination through a creative mix of vision, venues and voices.  The journey included public events in metropolitan areas emphasizing creative collaboration, science and ceremony (Eugene, Astoria, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma), events in tribal communities (Lummi, Grand Ronde, Chinook, Nez Perce, Yakama, Umatilla, Shoshone Bannock, and the Village of Celilo).

In each instance cultural arts inspired new ways of imagining and understanding our natural heritage through the inspiration of  the totem pole and in two locations (Eugene and Umatilla) the award-winning Whale Protectors Exhibit.  In-person events included ceremonial moments steeped in ancestral knowledge to deepen understandings of the challenges and avenues for cross-cultural collaboration and engagement.

Campaign partners included tribal communities, the Lummi Nation House of Tears Carvers, the Natural History Museum, University of Oregon (Native American Student Union),  Sierra Club,  Save our Wild Salmon, and the Woodland Park Zoo.