May 25, 2024 4:18 am

The premier news source for Snohomish County

Archbishop Murphy High School celebrates completion of Healing Pole

EVERETT—Students of Archbishop Murphy High School (AMHS), in a celebration of culture and healing, joined by members of the Tulalip Tribes celebrated the completion of The Healing Pole, a yearlong project spearheaded by master woodcarver, Artist-in-Residence James Madison.

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Artist-in-Residence James Madison. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore

“To represent our culture here at AMHS is a dream come true,” said Madison, who is a member of the Tulalip Tribe.

He thanked tribal leader Teri Gobin and her family for attending and being an inspiration to the youth.

The Healing Pole is to symbolize moving forward from “a very low point in a lot of people’s lives,” the 2020 pandemic.

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The Healing Pole at Archbishop Murphy High School. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

“I had a dream on it and I thought the best thing was to heal,” Madison told attendees of how he came up with the concept of the Healing Pole. “I had two boys at home, just like all of you guys, trying to figure out how to do zoom, sitting in your bedrooms by yourselves. That was a scary time for a lot of parents to keep you all safe.”

The Tulalip culture has a firm communal heritage of coming together as a family, Madison shared, and The Healing Pole is to represent the AMHS family coming together to overcome the trauma the pandemic inflicted on students, parents, and loved ones.

“Healing yourself is connected with healing others,” a quote Madison read. “As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else. Forgetting is not the same as healing. It is important for people to know that no matter lies in their past, they can overcome the dark side and press on to the brighter world.”

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Teri Gobin, Chair of the Tulalip Tribes. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore

“My hands go out to James Madison, the carver, who worked with the children,” Teri Gobin, Chair of the Tulalip Tribes said. “What is really important is each and every one of those who had a part in carving this healing pole. It engages our children to be involved in education when you have hands on learning. This is how a lot of our people really learn.”

Chair Gobin shared that healing poles touch the hearts of people and thanks the school and students for accepting the Tulalip culture into their academic environment.

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The Healing Pole at Archbishop Murphy High School ceremony on May 15, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore

“Our tribe is about community, and trying to just love one another and support one another, and I thank everyone of you that are here today and that are here to support this project,” said Chair Gobin.

Fifteen students of the Tulalip people attend Archbishop Murphy High School. All students of the high school, at some point, contributed to the yearlong project that began on May 5, 2023, under the leadership and mentorship of Madison.

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A student carving the redwood which will becoming The Healing Pole. SOURCE: Archbishop Murphy High School

“There is such a long tradition of Native American students being underrepresented and misrepresented throughout history,” Alicia Mitchell, Principal of AMHS, told the Lynnwood Times. “I wanted to make sure we were creating a cultural bridge and providing a positive experience and positive representation of all the Tulalip tribal members in our community and students with Native American heritage.”

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The Healing Pole ceremony on May 15, 2024, at Archbishop Murphy High School. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

The future vision for the school, Mitchel said, is to build a field house to include a wood shop where artists can teach students about Coast Salish arts and Tulalip culture.

In Fall 2021, the school began fundraising efforts to support the expansion of hands-on and experiential learning opportunities. As an extension of these efforts, AMHS started an Artist-in-Residence program with inaugural artist James Madison.

Keldan, a student at AMHS shared that he learned how to improve his carving abilities and the importance of totem poles to his culture.

“It was a really cool experience to have in high school and help people remember us and our uncle,” said Keldan.

Logan added that the artwork has aided in healing students and will “touch a lot of people” in the future.

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The redwood log provided to Archbishop Murphy High School that was used to craft The Healing Pole. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

The names of the students are carved on the back of The Healing Pole which was crafted from a redwood log. Students spent up to three days a week for a year during breaks and lunch crafting The Healing Pole, Principal Mitchell said.

“Healing is all about being together in community and continuously strengthening our bonds and coming together and learning about one another,” Mitchell said.

Link to letter read by Principal Mitchell on behalf of Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin regarding The Healing Pole.

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