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NLM Launches Healing Totem Journey Blog in Advance of New Exhibition


The National Library of Medicine has launched a new blog in connection with its upcoming exhibition, Native Voices: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness.

The exhibition, which will examine concepts of health and medicine among contemporary American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, will feature a healing totem pole intended to promote good health. The totem, created especially for NLM by artist Jewell Praying Wolf James of the Lummi Nation, will be transported on a truck and will stop for tribal blessings in nearly a dozen states as it makes its cross-country trip.

A healing totem journey blog ( gives readers a special look at the making and meaning of this magnificent piece of art. The blog also will follow the totem on its journey from Washington state, where it was created, to NLM, where it will stand. The blog captures the sights and sounds of the journey through writings, photographs and video clips. Background information on the totem and its creation also appear, along with notes on the tribes conducting the blessings, and interviews with tribal leaders, National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) members and others along the route. Readers are invited to comment and ask questions, and they can sign up for updates via e-mail and RSS.    

"A huge amount of planning goes into bringing the totem to NLM," explains Beth Mullen of NLM's Exhibition Program, in the History of Medicine Division. She designed and will help monitor the blog. "We hope the blog will generate awareness and build excitement about the Native Voices exhibition and this important new addition to the Library's grounds."

The healing totem is scheduled to begin its journey on September 12, 2011. The Native Voices exhibition opens to the public on October 6, 2011.



 totem pole