Why Indigenous Activists Are Driving a 25-Foot Totem Pole Across the Country

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Earlier this month, Native American activists embarked on an epic, cross-country trek that began in Washington state and is slated to end on the front lawn of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C. on July 29.
The group is carrying precious cargo: namely, a monumental totem pole strapped to the back of a jumbo tractor-trailer, reports National GeographicOrganizers planned the journey to pressure the federal government, under President Joe Biden, to take immediate action to protect endangered areas that hold environmental and cultural significance for Native American tribes across the country.
Measuring 25 feet tall and 43 inches wide, the multicolored totem pole weighs some 4,900 pounds, reports Dana Hedgpeth for the Washington Post. Over two weeks, the object and its caretakes will cross the country on a trip dubbed the Red Road to D.C., stopping at sacred Indigenous sites including Bears Ears National Monument in Utah; Chaco Canyon in New Mexico; Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota; and Mackinaw City in Michigan, where the controversial Line 5 oil pipeline threatens the environmentally sensitive straits connecting Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. (Audiences can track the totem pole’s current location on the Red Road to D.C. website.)
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Photo Credit: Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group/Getty Images

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