Restored Totem Pole Raising Planned at Totem Middle School

Msvl., WA – The totem pole at Totem Middle School was originally erected on June 7, 2006 and was a gift from The Tulalip Tribes. The vision of the pole was created by the students who attended the school at the time.

When Principal Keri Lindsay came to the school a few years ago she noticed the totem pole was looking like it needed some care. She contacted The Tribes who connected her with Master Carver Kelly Moses. Kelly originally carved the pole. The totem pole was taken down once 11 years ago in the spring of 2010 and some minor repairs were done at that time.

The totem pole has a unique history and story. The tree came from lands on the Tulalip Reservation just above Port Susan. When the tree was harvested, students from the school were able to be on site to witness the process. Kelly explained that the tree was harvested in the winter and there was no sap running, which allowed the carving to start sooner. 

40 students traveled to Duncan BC, to the Royal British Museum, which was holding a totem pole tour at the time. This is where the students learned about totem poles and they cast their vision for the pole: the owl, bear, and raven under the thunderbird. The pole is a “story pole” and tells the “story of the owl, bear, and raven before humans came into the world”. Kelly shared “the owl is located in the tail of a Killer Whale. The whale honors The Tulalip Tribes”.

When the tree was brought to the campus, students in the shop class helped with the carving of the pole during class and before and after school.

During the current restoration, Kelly’s son Marcelis (“Stella”) has served as Kelly’s apprentice helping him to restore the pole. Stella is a student at Totem Middle School. Other students also helped in the restoration process staining, priming, and painting the pole, joining Kelly throughout their school day.

“I am very honored to do this work. It is helping me in my own personal journey and it is like going back in time to when I originally carved the totem with the students”, said Kelly. “I am carrying on the work of my father”.

The restored totem pole will be erected at a special ceremony Thursday, June 24, at 11:00 am at Totem Middle School, 7th and State, Marysville. For more information, contact Keri Lindsay, Principal,, or call (360) 965-0500.