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A gift of peace from John T. Williams' family

On Sunday (Feb. 26), a totem pole carved by the Williams family and others to commemorate native woodcarver John T. Williams will be carried in a procession from downtown to Seattle Center, where it will be ceremonially raised at its permanent home. The public is invited.

John T. Williams (1960-2010), Seattle woodcarver

John T. Williams (1960-2010), Seattle woodcarver Painting by Elizabeth Miner

Since the shooting of John T. Williams in 2010, native communities and other Seattle residents, public officials, and police have sought to further justice and help heal the spiritual wounds inflicted the day he was killed.

On Sunday (Feb. 26, John T. Williams' birthday), an honor totem pole carved by brother Rick Williams and the Williams family, along with other native woodcarvers, will be carried to Seattle Center and raised on its permanent foundation. The project has received in-kind pro bono support from the city of Seattle, Seattle Center, and local firms well known for their work in design, structural and soils engineering, drilling, construction, quality wood, and other services.

The gift of peace will be celebrated as follows:

10 a.m. — Pier 57, the 1300 block of Alaskan Way: Friends of John T. Williams and the Williams family and participants in the totem pole project will gather with Seattle officials and members of the public.

11 a.m. — Along the waterfront and up Broad Street: A ceremonial procession will carry the totem pole to Seattle Center.

1 p.m. — Seattle Center (south of Experience Music, east of the Space Needle, in the area bounded by Broad and Thomas Streets and 4th and 5th Avenues North): The pole will be raised.

2 p.m. — At the space surrounding the newly erected pole: The honor totem pole will be given to the City of Seattle as part of a program of celebrative speech, song, drumming, and blessings led by tribal leaders Arlie Neskahi (Navaho) and Jack Thompson (Chief Councillor, Ditidaht First Nation). Participating Seattle officials will include mayor Mike McGinn and councilmember Bruce Harrell. Rick Williams, First Nations Carver, will also be present.

Images of the pole and the project are online. Further information about the event on Sunday is on the John T. Williams Memorial Totem Pole Project Facebook page.

As part of Crosscut’s coverage of social concerns, Judy Lightfoot writes about how the region's people face challenges in a time of economic stress and diminished expectations. She often draws on her weekly one-on-one coffees with individuals sharing our public spaces who are socially isolated by homelessness or mental illness. Formerly a teacher and professor, she also writes about books, education, and the arts. Email judy.lightfoot@crosscut.com.


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