A new icon has claimed it's rightful place in Seattle history!

Dear friends,

It is with great honor that we announce:


 The John T. Williams Totem Pole Stands!

 Thank YOU! 

Your action and support has raised this 34 foot symbol of hope, tradition, peace and honor in our community.

Please help us reach our next goal of  completing the plaza with a granite tile bearing your name or personal short message.

Just as significant as carving, painting and helping to carry the John T Williams Totem Pole, is helping to fund this historic public project.

Let's leave no tile blank! Remember the Pike Place Market personalized pavers? 

 Create a public space: For community healing, contemplation, and honor:  contribute to the construction of the plaza encircling the pole by sponsoring a tile or by making a substantial financial contribution.  Business, foundation, tribal, and other contributions in excess of $1,000 will be honored in increments of $5,000. Contribute here.




The creation of the totem pole – turning tragedy to honor

On August 30, 2010, First Nations wood carver John T. Williams was shot and killed by a Seattle Police officer who stopped him while he was walking down the street with his carving knife and a piece of wood.  The officer later testified that he feared for his safety because of the knife.  In the days after this tragic event, John’s brother, Rick Williams, called for justice and a peaceful response to the shooting that would honor his brother and his First Nation heritage.  In addition to other actions, Rick Williams, and other family, friends, community and tribal leaders envisioned a totem pole that would be carved and raised in a public place to honor John, the Williams family’s seven generations of traditional carving, and the rich heritage of carvers and totem poles in Seattle.   Rick Williams designed a totem pole that turned the tragedy into an honoring of life, heritage and peace; he created a public art project that allowed for community healing.

This unique, collaborative, public art project integrated cultural preservation with conflict resolution.  In creating the pole, allowing public participation in the carving, and teaching its story and the history behind it, the Totem Pole Project gave voice to the pride John T. Williams had in his art and his family’s history in Seattle, and educated Seattle residents and visitors from all over the world about native traditions.  It also provided a forum and interactive opportunity for the City of Seattle and its citizens to discuss and engage issues raised by John’s shooting, one of many efforts to develop the relationship between the City of Seattle, its Police Department, and its Native residents.  Rick Williams and the family also engaged the conflict by initiating a Restorative Circle.  http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/a-restorative-circle-in-the-wake-of-a-police-shooting.

The Totem Pole Project now seeks to complete its mission of constructing the memorial plaza that will encircle the Totem Pole.  

The architectural design, developed by Suyama, Peterson Deguchi , incorporates the traditional pole in the contemporary setting of the Seattle Center.  The Seattle Arts Commission approved the acquisition of the pole as a gift to the Citizens of Seattle and a part of the City’s permanent art collection.

Major contributors to date include the Potlatch Fund, the Totem Pole Project’s fiscal sponsor, the Nisqually Tribe, and the law firms of MacDonald Hoague & Bayless and Bullivant Houser and the Glaser Progress Foundation. 

The Totem Pole Project already has received in excess of $150,000 of in-kind donations and commitments by construction professionals, architects, structural engineers, and soils engineers to provide site design, soils engineering, and installation services pro- bono or at a significantly reduced cost.   Their leadership and the world-class quality of their work ensure a well designed, powerful, functional, and safe display of the pole.  The design team was led by Suyama, Peterson & Deguchi, structural engineering by Swenson Say Faget, soils engineering by GeoEngineers, and construction services by Andersen Construction.  In addition, all project leadership and fundraising has been provided through in-kind contributions.

Thank you for taking action

Thank you for taking action to realize this dream and participate in this community healing process.  Contribute here .   Thank you for forwarding this request to others who might like to join us.  Thank you for honoring John T. Williams and his native heritage.  Thank you for standing with us, standing for peace.  This is community.


All donations are tax deductible.  The John T. Williams Project’s fiscal sponsor is the Potlatch Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization.