On travels from the Pacific Northwest, a 16-foot totem pole and art instillation housed at The Watershed Institute until late summer connects communities to water, land and our collective futures.
The exhibit, created by the Natural History Museum, a mobile and pop-up museum that offers exhibitions, expeditions, educational workshops, and public programming, will remain on display at the Watershed until Aug. 31.
More than 75 people celebrated the exhibit’s April 24 opening ceremony with a blessing by Chief Perry of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, and songs and prayers from members of the Lummi Nation. Speakers from The Watershed Institute, The Natural History Museum, Princeton Environmental Institute, and Science for the People offered brief remarks, and the Ramapough led a stone altar ceremony.
The totem pole, created by the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation in northern Washington State and southern British Columbia, has visited communities threatened or impacted by pipelines over the past six years.
The totem pole weighs about 2,500 pounds and took three months to carve out of red cedar, said one of the carvers, Doug James of the Lummi Nation.
With this exhibit hosted by The Watershed Institute, the totem pole connects the science community’s efforts to protect local watersheds from the proposed PennEast Pipeline to the Ramapough Lenape Nation’s struggle to stop the Pilgrim Pipeline, and the Lummi’s struggles to protect the waters of the Pacific Northwest from oil tankers and pipelines.
Kwel’ Hoy: Many Struggles, One Front is one stop of a cross-country tour, evolving museum exhibition and series of public programs uplifting efforts to protect water, land and our collective future.
The exhibit also includes a stone altar initiated by the Ramapough Lenape Nation from northern New Jersey. There are colorful displays of the “fossil-fuel ecosystem” – depicting companies extracting oil, gas and other natural resources – and stories of local peoples struggling to protect their homes from the impacts of fossil fuel development.
The exhibit was last at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa.
As part of Princeton Migrations, a coalition of 30 area nonprofits, the Kwel’ Hoy exhibit is a migrating symbol of resistance that creates alliances between tribal and non-tribal communities. For a full calendar of lectures, author talks, film screenings, exhibitions, and panel discussions, please visit PrincetonMigrations.org. The Watershed Institute would like to extend a special thank you to Stovers Wells and Pumps for coordinating the Totem Pole installation!
Members of the public are invited to bring a stone or rock to the Watershed to contribute to the altar, along with prayers for the water.
The exhibition at The Watershed Institute features a totem pole carved by House of Tears Carvers; an ever-growing stone altar initiated by members of the Ramapough Lenape Nation and added to by members of the public contributing stones and prayers for the water; and videos and graphics that map the fossil fuel ecosystem—encompassing land, energy, economics and culture. (Some of the images in the photo gallery below were taken by Emmanuel Abreu).
After viewing this exhibit, we invite the public to explore the Watershed’s permanent displays on science, climate change, and the impact of human activities the environment.