BETHESDA – A traditional Native American dance celebration and ceremony welcomed the opening of the Native Voices exhibit at the National Library of Medicine Wednesday.
The exhibit features a 20-foot-tall totem pole that is visible from Rockville Pike, a 10-foot-long voyaging canoe and an interactive multimedia gallery. The exhibit is designed to educate its visitors of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian traditions in healing and wellness.
“A lot of people think we’re a vanished, vanquished race, but we’re still alive and well,” said the totem pole’s master carver Jewell Praying Wolf James. Three quarters of modern pharmaceuticals are rooted in traditional Native American healing, James said.
The totem pole was built over a period of six months by 27 people and traveled approximately 5,000 miles across the country before arriving at the National Institutes of Health. The exhibit opened its doors to the public Thursday.