- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2004

Red cedar trees, older than the United States and carved into massive totem poles, were presented by American Indians yesterday as memorials at the Pentagon for the 184 victims of terrorist attacks there three years ago.

“We are recognizing that we are a part of the people of the U.S.,” said Jewell James, master carver of the Lummi Nation in Washington state. “Remember, these are only symbols — symbols of the love we are sending.”

Mr. James, 51, accompanied by his wife and infant son, was wearing a coned straw hat over his black braided hair and a black vest with a shadowy grey wolf’s head on the back.

A few in the audience of several thousand wore traditional Indian garb, including soft leather pants, decorated vests and shirts, and beaded necklaces.

Other speakers at the 90-minute ceremony south of the Pentagon emphasized that Indians had fought for the United States in past wars and that the four colors on the totem poles represented four races of Americans: whites, blacks, Indians and Asians.

“Those four colors are sacred colors to Indians,” said Bruce “Two Dog” Bozsum, a Mohegan Indian who blessed the totem poles with slow-burning native incense.

The two upright, 15-foot totem poles were titled Liberty and Freedom.

The 34-foot pole placed across their tops had eagles carved on each end, with two sets of seven feathers, in reference to Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Formally accepting the totem memorials was Lisa Dolan, widow of U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Dolan, who was killed at the Pentagon. “My life and that of 183 others were forever altered.” Ms. Dolan said. “Your gesture brings us one step closer in the healing process.”

North Dakotan Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said: “As you know, we were here first. … We will always fight for these lands.”

Mr. James, head of the House of Tears Carvers, said 19 men and women worked 4,000 hours carving and painting the poles.

The Liberty totem pole depicts a female bear with a “grandmother moon” in her abdomen. The Freedom totem pole is a male bear with a “grandfather moon.”

The Sovereignty totem pole across the top has a female eagle on one end symbolizing peace and a male eagle on the other end symbolizing war.

An honor guard, consisting of two Lummi, a Mohawk and a Suquamish Indian, presented and retired the U.S. flag and the white flags of the Lummi and Mohawks.

“They are magnificent poles,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. “Thank you for this wonderful carving and the gift of healing it brings to all of us.”

The Liberty and Freedom totem poles will be moved to the Congressional Cemetery near the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, two days after the Smithsonian opens the National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall, west of the Capitol.

In the fall, the totem poles will be moved permanently to a September 11 memorial grove on Kingman Island in the Anacostia River.

Indians have fought in U.S. wars since the Civil War. About 12,000 were in military units during World War I and about 42,000 in World War II.

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