Nomon Tim at the Lummi Totem Blessing Ceremony

Wednesday, September 21, 2022 8:29 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

On Wednesday, September 14,speeches, musical performances and prayers were offered during the blessing ceremony for the totem pole carved by members of the Lummi Nation’s House of Tears Carvers. This story pole, dedicated to Chief Tsilixw, accompanied by two of his house poles, then travelled to Pittsburgh PA for an international Clean Air symposium. At the symposium and along the way they were a focus for public gatherings and conversations about clean energy use, salmon health, orcas and the removal of the Snake River dams.

Swil Kanim, beloved Lummi violinist and storyteller, served as host for the celebration. At one point he invited “his brother of a different mother,” Jeff McKenna, to share a song from his Native heritage, one that came to Jeff in a dream. After slowly making his way to the stage, Jeff’s strong voice truly inspired as it carried far and never wavered. Swil Kanim and Jeff drummed and sang together 7 verses representing all the elements that must come together for a truly sacred gathering, including music, dance, art, earth, sky, water, love. All these elements and many more were gathered, and there were tears in many eyes.

Among the spiritual leaders offering blessings for the journey to was our guiding teacher Nomon Tim Burnett, who invoked Jizo Bodhisattva, the protector of children, teachers, andtravelers:

Jizo Bodhisattva – Earth Store Bodhisattva – great being who cares for the earth and for all of the beings on the earth:

Help us to heal this Earth. This Earth we love. This Earth we’ve neglected. This Earth we can so easily forget. Help us to remember. Help us to know that we are the Earth. Help release us from this illusion of our separateness.

Jizo Bodhisattva – protector of travelers - protect this totem, protect Chief Tsilixw and his protectors as they travel these lands. Protect them as they teach, protect them as they learn. Protect them as they embrace what is right, protect them as they resist what is wrong.

Jizo Bodhisattva – protector of children – help us all remember that everything we do here is for our children, and their children, and their children’s children’s children. May the benefit of this strong clear effort to bring light move through the generations. 

Jizo Bodhisattva we call on you with your sacred sounds mantra:


Jizo Bodhisattva we call on you also in silence, in the pause between all sounds, in the deep peace of non-doing, in the intimacy of not-knowing. 


Thank you Jizo Bodhisattva, thank you House of Tears carvers, thank you to the Lummi Nation for taking care of our lands and waters, thank you to the Bellingham community. Thank you to all beings in all directions in the three times.

While chanting the Jizo mantra, Tim played the mokugyo, a small handheld Japanese drum, and his words and the mantra reflected and expressed all the blessings, chanting, and drumming of the afternoon.

The Lummi House of Tears carvers have been creating and sharing memorial totem poles with the world since 9/11, and before. The launching of the next journey, whenever it may happen, is not to be missed. 

Post submitted by Karen McMains of RCZC. Thanks to the Lummi Nation, Tim Burnett and Kate McKenna respectively for the photos.

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