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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Bethesda in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

A Totem For Healing

 
 
A Totem For Healing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, May 23, 2014
1. A Totem For Healing Marker
Inscription.  The National Library of Medicine's healing totem was created to promote good health, in keeping with the mission of the doctors and scientists who work here at NIH to advance our knowledge of health and medicine. Master carver Jewell James of the Lummi Nation in the Pacific Northwest explains that figures in this totem are based on stories of his tribe and of the Algonquin Nation in the Northeastern United States.

The totem was carved from a 500-year-old red cedar tree from the Northern Cascade Mountains of Washington State.

Medicine Woman in the Moon
The Algonquin story of the Medicine Woman in the Moon teaches us to appreciate and protect our knowledge, and to understand that the answers to some questions may take a long time to be revealed. In the story, a powerful woman healer, gifted with the knowledge to cure many ailments, wished to know when the world would end. Told by a spirit that she could learn this secret only if she hid away from other humans, she traveled to the Moon, which protects the earth by night. She still waits there patiently today and, when the Moon is full, she can be seen weaving
A Totem For Healing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 14, 2013
2. A Totem For Healing Marker
a headband. Once her question is answered, she will return home. Red, black, white and yellow signify the four races of mankind. All four are included to represent the idea that traditional knowledge and medicines are indigenous to all four races on the earth.

Tree of Life
A powerful symbol not just of Native American beliefs but in many cultures worldwide. The Tree represents the forests from which medicines were gathered.

Woman with a Gathering Basket
Symbolizing the role of women in collecting traditional herbs and medicinal plants.

Colors        Meaning
Red         Blood and Valor
Blue        Water and sky
White      Skies and spacious heavens
Yellow     Sun, light and happiness
Green      Earth with hills, trees and mountains
Black       Power

 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Native AmericansScience & Medicine.
 
Location. 38° 59.756′ N, 77° 5.861′ W. Marker is in Bethesda, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker can be reached from Center Drive just west of Wisconsin Avenue (Maryland Route 355), on the left when traveling west. Marker is in front of the National Library of Medicine 8600 Rockville Pike on the NIH campus. Touch for map.
A Totem For Healing image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, May 23, 2014
3. A Totem For Healing
Marker is at or near this postal address: 38 Center Drive, Bethesda MD 20814, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Bear and the Steelhead (here, next to this marker); Raven and the Sun (here, next to this marker); Tree of Hippocrates (a few steps from this marker); President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the NIH Bethesda campus on this site, October 31, 1940 (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Louis Stokes Laboratories (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Centennial Anchor (approx. 0.4 miles away); From Trolley to Trail (approx. 0.4 miles away); Old Spring House & Pool of Bethesda (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bethesda.
 
Also see . . .
1. Healing Totem. Native Voices Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness Exhibit at The National Library of Medicine. (Submitted on October 10, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.) 

2. Installation of the Healing Totem at NLM. (Submitted on October 10, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
 
Medicine Woman in the Moon image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, May 23, 2014
4. Medicine Woman in the Moon
Tree of Life image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, May 23, 2014
5. Tree of Life
Woman with a Gathering Basket image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, May 23, 2014
6. Woman with a Gathering Basket
Cross Section of the NLM Healing Totem Tree image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 9, 2014
7. Cross Section of the NLM Healing Totem Tree
A cross section of the base of the 500-Year-old Pacific Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) is on display in the NLM lobby. The old tree fell naturally in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and was carved by Jewell Praying Wolf James into the Healing Totem.
Jewell Praying Wolf James image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 9, 2014
8. Jewell Praying Wolf James
This 2011 photo of Jewell Praying Wolf James is displayed in the NLM lobby.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 21, 2019. It was originally submitted on October 10, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 254 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on October 10, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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Jul. 10, 2020