Two Eugene schools were bestowed towering, hand-carved totem poles yesterday, by the 4J NATIVES program.
COVID-19 delayed delivery of the first pole to North Eugene High School by nearly a year. There was a much smaller crowd than usual, but they were no less appreciative.
“It’s a way to honor our native staff, students and community, to honor the land on which our school is built,” NEHS princial Trinity Welch-Radabaugh told KLCC.
North Eugene senior Halie Nightpipe (Lakota Sioux) and junior Keith Schick (Chiricahua Apache), both with the NATIVES program, were pleased to see the poles installed. They helped strip bark and chisel the design features into the raw wooden surface.
“It feels really great because we’ve worked so hard to get this thing up, and we finally got it up,” said Nightpipe.
“It feels good to know that like, when I graduate, our legacy will still be here,” added Schick.
The second pole was installed at Madison Middle School. Both deliveries were accompanied by a blessing ceremony with burning sage (called "smudging") and NATIVES director Brenda Brainard and the students sang the song of the American Indian Movement.
NATIVES staff say once on-campus schools are in session and the pandemic has waned, there’ll be a larger ceremony for the totem poles.
WEB EXTRA: Watch a video of the transport, delivery, and installation of the 4J NATIVES totem poles to North Eugene High and Madison Middle School.
Copyright 2021, KLCC.