Indigenous Tribes Rally to Bring Captive Orca Home

Lummi Tribal elder and master carver, Doug James, at work on the Orca Totem that is traveling from Miami, where Tokitae, the last surviving orca whale taken from the Salish Sea 40 years ago, remains in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium, to Seattle, where they hope to bring her home to a transition facility. Photo courtesy of Lummi Nation

The Foundation for Indigenous Medicine and the Diné tribe (Navajo) will host a cultural exchange on Saturday, June 8, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at the Topanga Community Center (TCC), in support of the Lummi Nation’s call for the return of captured Orca whale, Tokitae.

A 3,000-pound totem and its carver, Doug James, have journeyed from Miami to Seattle to bring attention to the mission. James, a descendant of Chief Seattle, will be on hand to speak of the journey. Other speakers include former Topanga resident Joni Siegel, President, Foundation for Indigenous Medicine, and Emerson Gorman, Diné Medicine Man and Spiritual Advisor for the Foundation.

The gathering will offer a blessing of the totem, creation of a mural for the continuing journey, and a slide presentation about Tokitae, the last surviving orca whale taken from the Salish Sea 40 years ago, who remains in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium. The event also serves as an important cultural exchange between the Diné and Lummi Nations and the local Topanga community. Also featured are Native American  music and dance, traditional native arts, crafts, food, and jewelry for sale.

According to the press release, “We need everyone’s help to bring Tokitae home to a transition facility where she can learn to fish and live on her own again. This event is a great opportunity to learn about the ancient ways of a Navajo Medicine man, meet his family, and hear how the Foundation for Indigenous Medicine is supporting his good work. His wife and children will be there, all of whom are medicine people.

Tickets are $10 each, available at the door.

The Topanga Community Center is located at 1440 North Topanga Canyon Boulevard Topanga, CA 90290.

About the Foundation for Indigenous Medicine—Indigenous Medicine People will lead us into the future by guiding us to reconnect with the sacred web of life through the teachings of ancient ways. The Foundation supports this valuable work and knowledge by: Providing resources to build infrastructure such as Healing and Education Centers on their land; Uniting Medicine People around the globe by building and supporting a strong network; Creating conferences and monthly publications to ensure timely communication; Empowering their practices to reach more people.

About the Navajo Nation—The Navajo Nation is one of the largest tribes in the United States. Their culture, history, and governance are rooted in their clan system and their oral history. Navajo was the word given to them by European settlers; they call themselves Diné, and the rules of behavior found within the clan system extend to the manner of refined culture that the Navajo people call “to walk in Beauty.” Emerson Gorman’s great grandmother was forced to walk 600 miles on the Long Walk, led by Kit Carson. Joni Siegel discovered she is distantly related to Kit Carson, a coincidence the two discovered after working together for several months. Our work is about healing the past, creating a strong future, and building a bridge between our cultures.

About the Lummi Nation—The Lummi People are the original inhabitants of the beautiful San Juan Islands and Washington State’s northernmost coast and southern British Columbia. For thousands of years, they worked, struggled, and celebrated life on the shores and waters of Puget Sound. They are fishers, hunters, gatherers, and harvesters of nature’s abundance. They envision their homeland as a place where all are encouraged to succeed, and none are left behind.


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