Photos courtesy The Natural History Museum (Connie McCloud and Shotridge family) and Peter Woodburn (crowd)

Photos courtesy The Natural History Museum (Connie McCloud and Shotridge family) and Peter Woodburn (crowd)

Islanders Flock to “Whale People: Protectors of the Sea”

One of the exhibit’s 25-foot totem poles calls for the protection of sacred Indigenous places.

On July 10, Vashon Heritage Museum opened “Whale People: Protectors of the Sea,” an outdoor exhibit developed by The Natural History Museum with the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation, with close to 500 people in attendance.

Speakers for the event included Connie McCloud (Puyallup), Sit Ke Kadem James (Lummi), and Siam’elwit James (Lummi) and included drumming and songs from Sue and Israel Shotridge (Tlingit) and their family. Attendees also had a chance to view and touch two remarkable totems — a 25-foot, 5,000-pound totem pole and a 16-foot orca pole — and see an award-winning, outdoor IMAX-style film that is also part of the exhibit.

Douglas James and Siam’elwit, from House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation, brought the 5,000-pound totem to Vashon for one day only, as they embarked on a cross-country journey with the “Red Road to DC” totem.

The journey of the totem is a means to call for the urgent protection of sacred Indigenous places along the way, including Snake River, Bear Ears, Chaco Canyon and the Black Hills.

Ultimately, the totem will be delivered to the Biden-Harris administration, with an event on the National Mall and the opening of an exhibition about the Lummi’s totem pole journeys in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

The Orca totem and film will remain on exhibit at Vashon Heritage Museum through August.

The museum is open to visitors from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. In addition, it will be open from 6 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, so visitors can experience the Orca totem and see the film included in “Whale People: Protectors of the Sea.”

Narrated by the late Chief Bill James (Lummi), Master Carver Jewell James (Lummi), and Amy Ta’ah George (Tsleil-Waututh), the film tells the story of the environmental emergency through the figure of the Orca. The impetus for the film and creating the exhibit was the display of grief by Tahlequah, the orca mother who famously carried her dead calf for 17 days in 2020.

The Natural History Museum is a Vashon-based traveling and pop-up museum led by artists, activists and scholars. Its founders, Beka Economopoulos and Jason Jones, moved to Vashon in 2018.

For more information, visit vashonheritagemuseum.org and thenaturalhistorymuseum.org.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@vashonbeachcomber.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.vashonbeachcomber.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Arts

book
Memoir details how islander transformed trauma into new life

Book tells author’s journey of healing from sexual assault through learning how to build her own home

intimacy
Workshop for theater-makers will center on concept of consent

PNW Theatrical Intimacy was formed to create a community of theatrical intimacy professionals.

opera
What’s happening in arts | Oct. 21 edition

Vashon Opera returns and local musician to perform at local brewery.

films
Acclaimed filmmaker to host a documentary series at VCA

“Vashon Verité” will include screenings of “American Anarchist” and “Finding Vivian Maier.”

marshall
What’s happening in arts | Oct. 14 edition

A celebration of life to be held for beloved local actor, upcoming book lectures and more.

museum
Author of book about the history of Puget Sound to give talk

The conversation is part of the Vashon Heritage Museum’s free, monthly “Museum Talk” series.

kinesis
Dancing coast to coast

Dance group to bring two companies together in one place.

Courtesy Photo
“Where Are We Tomorrow?” is Black’s first novel and was released earlier this year in May.
Islander’s life on tour helps inspire new novel

“Where Are We Tomorrow?” explores topics of miscarriage, misogyny and addiction to fame.

first friday
First Friday offers art lovers a new bounty of exhibits

New exhibits at VCA, VALISE & Cafe Vino Olio beginning First Friday, Oct. 1

Coraline
What’s Happening in Arts | Sept. 29 – Oct.9

Catch local musician’s performance, student group to play at Mukai Farm & Garden, and more.

TEASE VCA
Annual auction offers art and more, from the comfort of home

The culmination of VCA’s art auction will be a free, live-streamed gala at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24.

our town
Our Town: Sharon Munger’s artful life on Vashon

“I know of no other place I want to be, with such a vibrant art community,” says Munger.