by Steven Gilbert | July 26th, 2012
This Sunday marks the 24th annual Canoe Journey, a colorful event that has helped strengthen the cultural ties of Pacific Northwest coastal tribes.
Every summer a different tribe hosts the canoe landing. This year, hundreds of canoes will paddle to the Port of Olympia where they will be welcomed by the Squaxin Island Tribe to participate in a week of potlatch ceremonies to celebrate the resurgence of coastal Salish traditions.
Cedar canoes served the indigenous tribes of the coastal Pacific Northwest as the traditional mode of transportation on our inland waterways, the ancestral highways. Tribal leaders created the annual Canoe Journey in 1989 with the intent that it coincide with the centennial celebration of Washington being admitted as our nation’s 42nd state. That year nine canoes participated in the Suquamish Tribe’s “Paddle to Seattle” and in 1993, 23 canoes made the voyage to the Qutawas Festival for “Paddle to Bella Bella.” Since then, annual canoe landings have been held every year and over 100 canoe families of the Northwest Coast tribes from Canada, Oregon and Washington now participate.
The Squaxin Island Tribe has chosen “Teachings of Our Ancestors” as this year’s Canoe Journey theme.
“It is our ancestors that teach us that we must care for our elders, each other, our children and the earth because each is a part of our past, present and future,” said Charlene Krise, Squaxin Island Museum executive director.
The landing will take place at the Port of Olympia on Sunday at 1 p.m. and the Celebration Potlatch protocol that follows will be from July 30 to August 5 in nearby Kamilche. For more information, click here to visit the Paddle to Squaxin 2012 event website.