Rick L. Williams
John T. Williams Honor Totem Pole
Broad Street Green, Seattle Center
Gift of the John T. Williams Memorial Totem Pole Project, funded through private donations
The John T. Williams Honor Pole, a painted red-cedar totem pole, stands in a grove of trees on the Broad Street Green, facing west towards the Space Needle. Approximately 34 feet tall and three feet across at the base, the traditionally carved pole depicts three dominant emblems that represent three generations of the Williams family carving family: at the top, an eagle, next the human master wood-carver holding a kingfisher, and at the base, a mother raven.
Rick Williams carved this totem pole to honor the memory of his brother, John T. Williams, a carver who was shot and killed by a police officer while walking down the street with his carving knife and a piece of wood. Calling for justice and a peaceful response, Rick Williams envisioned a totem pole that would be carved and raised in a public setting, engendering conversation, encouraging collaborative creation and integrating cultural preservation with conflict resolution. Allowing the general public to participate and view the carving, this project became a truly public art endeavor.
A group of family, friends and community formed a non-profit that would ultimately purchase the pole from Rick Williams and arrange to have it installed in a public location, which occurred on the occasion of John T. Williams' birthday, with much in-kind support and donations.