What do North Idahoans have in common with a small tribe of Native Americans, who fish on the Salish Sea and whose artistic and spiritual tradition calls for carving the trunks of old-growth cedar trees into stories?

They, like us, are on the front lines of a fossil fuel boom that threatens our communities.

In the Lummi Tribe’s case, they began to speak out against the proposed Cherry Point coal export terminal-which could potentially export 48 million tons of coal a year-after a wetland on sacred ground was bulldozed to make way for the facility.

A special Lummi Tribe totem pole journeyed from the Lummi homeland in northwest Washington to the Powder River Basin, sowing solidarity along the coal railroad route.

Miles away in Idaho, we’re also between the Powder River Basin coal mines and potential new markets in the Far East. We’re also between the Bakken oil fields and the shipping lanes of the West Coast.

While our immediate concerns might be different, our overall interests are similar: to protect the places we love now and for future generations.

This month, the second Totem Pole Journey begins, as the Lummi Tribe carries a totem pole along the same rail route that will carry coal and oil to the Salish Sea.

The totem pole “brings to mind our shared responsibility for the lands, the waters, and the peoples who face environmental and cultural devastation from fossil fuel megaprojects,” as  Lummi Tribal Chairman Timothy Ballew has written.

You can see this unique totem pole and learn its stories and spiritual meaning during a special event at 10 am, Thursday, Aug 27, at  the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, 4340 W Fort Wright Drive, Spokane.

You can also help the Lummis with their latest salvo in the battle against coal and oil train terminals by speaking out on behalf of Lummi Treaty Rights today.