Carnegie Museum of Natural History will host the traveling exhibition Kwel’ Hoy: We Draw the Line!, which explores the struggle of indigenous leadership to protect water, land, and our collective future.
The exhibition, created by the nonprofit The Natural History Museum and the House of Tears Carvers of Lummi Nation, opens October 25 and features a hand-carved totem pole that has been traveling across the country to raise awareness about threats to the environment and public health.
The totem pole was made by the House of Tears Carvers of Lummi Nation. The Lummi, also known as Lhaq’temish or People of the Sea, are the original inhabitants of Washington’s northernmost coast and southern British Columbia.
“Kwel’ Hoy: We Draw the Line! is a wonderfully modern and timely exhibition that not only celebrates the successful conservation efforts of indigenous people, but also tells the story of how we as humans impact our environment,” said Dr. Eric Dorfman, the Daniel G. and Carole L. Kamin Director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. “It stands alone as an impactful museum experience but also complements our in-house exhibition We Are Nature, which examines the interconnectedness of humanity and nature.”
The totem pole at the center of Kwel’ Hoy: We Draw the Line! has been traveling across the United States and Canada for the past five years. The exhibition also features a collection of artifacts collected along the route of the Totem Pole Journey such as a 150-year-old pipe, a jar of river water contaminated with coal ash, and a collectively created mural.
“As the pole travels, it draws a line between dispersed but connected concerns, helping to build an unprecedented alliance of tribal and non-tribal communities as they stand together to advocate for a sustainable relationship between humanity and the natural world,” said Beka Economopoulos, executive director of the nonprofit The Natural History Museum. “Charged with the stories of resilience they have picked up on their journey across the country, they connect the museum—and the museum public—to the living universe in which they are enmeshed.”
The Natural History Museum is a mobile and pop-up museum initiated by Not An Alternative, a collective of artists, scientists, and scholars.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History will partner with The Natural History Museum and the House of Tears Carvers of Lummi Nation to host two events that celebrate the opening of the exhibition on October 23 and 25.
On October 23, there will be a free event in the CMOA Theater that will be led by a delegation of Tribal elders and leaders: Jewell James (Lummi), Doug James (Lummi), Freddie Lane (Lummi), Faith Spotted Eagle (Yankton Sioux), Reuben George (Tsleil-Waututh), Valine Crist (Haida), and Judith LeBlanc (Caddo).
The event will involve blessings, talks, and a short film screening, and there will be video projections and a mobile pop-up exhibit on stage.
On October 25, acclaimed master carver Jewell Praying Wolf James and Doug James of the House of Tears Carvers will take part in a totem pole blessing ceremony led by Faith Spotted Eagle (Yankton Sioux), marking the openings of the 2017 ICOM NATHIST Conference: The Anthropocene Natural History Museums in the Age of Humanity as well as the opening of the exhibition.
The blessing will take place at 8:30 a.m. in the museum’s Sculpture Courtyard. Photographers and reporters are welcomed to attend.