Protecting Indigenous Sacred Sites with Red Road to DC
A 20,000 Mile Journey
In 2021, the House of Tears Carvers from the Lummi Nation carved a 25-foot totem pole that journeyed across the country to highlight the threats to Indigenous sacred sites. During their 20,000-mile journey, the carvers, Indigenous activists, and allies stopped at nine sacred sites that are at risk from infrastructure projects and resource extraction. The journey culminated with an event in Washington D.C. in which the totem pole was welcomed by Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo); President Biden’s Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory; and PaaWee Rivera (Pojoaque Pueblo), Senior Advisor for Intergovernmental Affairs and Director of Tribal Affairs at the White House.
Pyramid partnered with the House of Tears Carvers, Native Organizers Alliance, IllumiNative, Se’Si’Le and The Natural History Museum to lead media efforts throughout the totem pole journey.
- Raise awareness about sacred sites and the issues tribes and Indigenous groups face everyday
- Elevate the voices of tribes and Indigenous groups nationwide as they called on the Biden administration to protect their sacred sites
- Engage non-Indigenous groups to increase the number of petition signatures
Tactics At Work
- Developed media strategy that aimed to raise awareness about the journey and sacred sites, and highlight Indigenous leaders
- Coordinated with tribes and Indigenous groups from each sacred site to draft media releases and talking points
- Developed a social media toolkit for non-Indigenous supporters to increase petition signatures to President Biden
- Distributed media advisories and press releases to reports nationally for each stop along the journey
- Planned and executed a media event at the National Mall in Washington D.C.
- Coordinated with media spokespeoples—tribal leaders and Indigenous activists—during media event
- Scheduled follow-up interviews following Washington D.C. media event
- Continued outreach to media outlets to build further awareness of Indigenous sacred sites
Through this work, Pyramid created significant media attention that led to media coverage in key national outlets, including The Washington Post, CNN, The Hill, USA Today and Indian Country Today. With more than 500 articles nationwide, this attention elevated the importance of the work, therefore leading to private meetings between tribes, Indigenous groups, and Secretary Haaland. Overall, this work created a platform for tribes and Indigenous groups to advocate for sacred sites and led to a potential outreach of 1.2 billion (with a “b”) readers.