In Eugene, Tribal Ceremonies Herald Return Of Totem Poles

Sep 23, 2017

Local Native Americans held resetting ceremonies for two renovated totem poles for the City of Eugene Saturday.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports. 

At the Amazon Pool, students from the 4J NATIVES Program, tribal elders, and a drum group ushered in the first totem pole.  Brenda Brainard is head of the NATIVES program, and is with the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. 

A drum group performs at the Amazon Pool Saturday as the renovated totem pole is installed.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

“These poles have all been blessed if you will, by the local tribal people," Brainard tells KLCC.  

"We’ve always invited them to participate.  We do have lots of kids who are from local tribes that have helped carve them, helped paint them, helped rehabilitate them.” 

The second pole was installed near the Defazio Bridge.  Whether swimmers or pedestrians, Brainard hopes people have one major takeaway from seeing the totems.

Local Native American elders, educators, and students pose with the totem pole at Defazio Bridge Saturday.
Credit Margaret Bull

“If they can just get that pause moment, to say, “Oh, here were native people, and this is the evidence of what they were and still are,” she says.  "That we’re not old timey.  That we’re still here among them.” 

The City of Eugene asked local natives to help renovate the two poles.  A third was far too worn, so Brainard says they’ll soon start carving a new one that’ll eventually go up at Sheldon High School.

Copyright 2017, KLCC.