Memorial totem pole honors MMIW, Judylee Guthrie of Hydaburg
Sunday, November 20, 2022

A memorial totem pole honoring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirits (MMIWG2S) was recently raised near Klawock. This beautiful, heartbreaking tribute is the result of a sensitive collaboration, and was dedicated to Judylee Guthrie, who was murdered by her partner in 2016. The pole was carved in recognition of the crisis of violence facing Indigenous communities.

 The totem pole is carved from a western red cedar log, and features several inlaid designs that are symbolic of Haida culture. It was stood up near Klawock, across from the Viking Lumber Mill – close to the place where Guthrie’s body was recovered. Hydaburg mayor Tony Christianson carved the pole as a reminder that our communities always stand ready to help each other – in both times of joy and times of pain. 

Unity, community, and breaking the cycles of violence against women. 

Ending violence against women, girls and two spirit relatives is essential to creating strong, united communities. When those in Indigenous communities are targeted for abuse – and when some within the community are unable to break free and instead perpetuate cycles of violence – it undermines a sense of safety and belonging that should be inherent. It also sends the message that these individuals are not a valued part of our communities and culture, counter to traditional values that recognize the power of matriarchy through female clan matriarchs and lineage. The cycle of violence must be broken to create societies that are just and equitable for all. 

Sealaska remains deeply grateful to the dedication and compassion of those working to end violence in our communities. These groups provide support to survivors, raise awareness and push for policy changes. By working together, we can create communities where all members are safe and valued. We can break cycles of violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit relatives that have been passed down for generations. With unity and compassion, we can create a better world. 

HOPE works to create a safe environment for all that live on Prince of Wales Island, providing support and advocacy for victims and survivors of interpersonal violence through collaboration and prevention efforts. 

H.O.P.E, or Helping Ourselves Prevent Emergencies, is a non-profit organization that provides support and advocacy for victims and survivors of interpersonal violence. The organization aims to create a safe and supportive environment for those who have been affected by violence. This is accomplished through collaboration with other agencies and organizations, as well as prevention efforts that raise awareness about the signs of abuse. HOPE is committed to helping those who have been affected by violence, offering a variety of programs and services to meet the needs of their clients. 

We have come a long way, but there is much work left to be done. We can all be a part of the solution and respond to this call for justice. By sharing these Indigenous-led efforts, our communities build, co-create and rise together. 

This pole is a symbol of strength and resilience for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, a collaborative work of art that was created with care and respect. 

Sealaska recognizes the critical need for more work to end this crisis of violence facing our communities. Together, we can bring awareness to this important issue and help make a difference for our communities.  It is vital that we all understand the history and context of this moment, and that we continue to come together and take collective action. The work ahead of us is enormous, but we are motivated by the justice and dignity that we seek for our people. 

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