Poles raised in Minnesota

A welcoming Ojibway song and dance launched a recent pole-raising ceremony in the Minnesota home of three totem poles from northwestern B.C.

  • Nov. 20, 2016 2:00 p.m.

Dempsey Bob

A welcoming Ojibway song and dance launched a low-key, pole-raising ceremony in a Minnesota, Minneapolis suburb last week, where three locally-carved totem poles now occupy a prominent post in the headquarters of an immense charitable foundation.

Honouring the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies founder,  Margaret A. Cargill, the poles were carved by northwestern B.C.’s Stan Bevan, Dempsey Bob and Ken McNeil, instructors in the arts program at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art at Northwest Community College here.

After a welcome from the Minnesota Ojibway and Dakota First Nations, another welcome was given from officials of the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies which is based in the  Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie. The foundation supports the arts and environmental causes. It is expanding its headquarters and purchased the totem poles for its new space.

Following the welcome, the carvers performed a traditional dance and song. Then the crowd formed a  procession, with 100 foundation employees and about 30 First Nations guests winding their way to where the totem poles were covered with drapes.

The poles were unveiled one by one and the smallest one, Bob’s 12-foot pole, was hoisted to its standing position.

Foundation communications officer Leeanne Huber said the Nov. 15 event was moving and stunning. “I was unprepared for how impacted I was by seeing them unveiled,” she said. “They really are just absolutely stunning.” The ceremony wrapped up with a group dance and an authentic First Nations lunch.

“It was a very meaningful ceremony,” said Huber.

The Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies is one of the largest foundations in the United States  and distributed $250 million in grants in 2015.

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