Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tribal Canoe Journey

A squadron of First Nations and Native American canoes came ashore at Fort Warden State Park here in Port Townsend around noon today.

This is the annual "Tribal Canoe Journey." The Journey was established in 1989. The purpose is to encourage First Nations (Canada) and Native Americans, to reconnect with their rich heritage. And, through fellowship, confront problems of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and suicide.

The canoe journey is a strong allegory of "pulling" the paddles, working together, to achieve a goal.

The waters over which they pass, follow the same dangerous open water routes their ancestors navigated whilst hunting and trading.

This group of 14 vessels, is part of a much larger undertaking taking place from as far south as Vancouver Washington, and Bella Coola to the north. And there are contingents from Hawaii and New Zealand.

"Paddle to Swinomish 2011" is a cornucopia of information about the event, including photographs and videos taken on "paddles." Groups come and go, some trailering certain segments of the Journey.

Keeping to the schedule of arriving in La Conner is a daunting task. Weather and tide play a big role in the daily progress.

The Tribal Canoe Journey ends in La Conner, Washington, on July 25th. The Journey ends. But, but the celebration will be just beginning!

Last years event was attended by more than 10,000 people representing more than 50 First Nations and Native American tribes. This year, more than 100 tribes are expected to attend.

There is a "Tent Protocol" for placement of tents forming a circle. There will be ceremonies and dancing within the circle. I felt an emotional connection with this occasion. My roots are deeply embedded on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

Finally, the boat crews are guided by the Ten Rules of the Canoe. This is a powerful document. Perhaps there is something meaningful within these Rules, for each of us to ponder.

2 Comments - Click here:

Lesley said...

Wonderful pictures of these 'works of art' Can't imagine what it would be like to be out in the 'straits' in one. Purpose, Love and Laughter shine through for these participants. It will enhance their future while honoring their past. Comprehensive reporting on this important event. Thanks for your thoughtful story.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the Tlingit Alaskan canoes which by the way you feature 3 from the top...

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