The Canoe Journey — an annual gathering of Northwest Native canoe cultures — visits Suquamish July 19 and Port Gamble S’Klallam July 20.
This year’s visits will be more intimate than previous years. Canadian and North Sound canoes are traveling to Vancouver Island en route to the final destination of the Quinault Nation on Washington’s Pacific Coast. Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam are hosting canoes only from South Sound; those canoes will proceed along the Olympic Peninsula en route to Quinault. More than 100 canoes are expected to visit Quinault Aug. 1-6.
Suquamish Cultural Activities Director Tina Jackson said the Suquamish Tribe will host about 10-12 canoe families from Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin, and the family of Canoe Journey founder Emmett Oliver.
The public can watch the canoes land in the afternoon. The landings will feature traditional welcomes in indigenous languages, followed by a dinner for canoe families and an evening of traditional songs, dances and gifting — also open to the public — in the House of Awakened Culture.
“We encourage people to come and watch the canoes and watch the protocols,” Jackson said. Although dinner is primarily for the canoe families, “we don’t turn anyone away,” she said.
Canoes depart Suquamish the morning of July 20 and arrive at Point Julia between noon and 3 p.m. that day. Visiting canoes will be greeted by S’Klallam canoes on the water and welcomed on the beach by dignitaries — and a clam bake, for which Port Gamble S’Klallam is famous. Dinner and an evening of cultural sharing will follow in Little Boston. Canoes depart Point Julia July 21.
Each Canoe Journey is a test of mental, physical and spiritual readiness; some canoes will travel as far as 400 nautical miles from their home territories to Quinault. Pullers are hosted by indigenous nations along the way, with each stop filled with the sharing of traditional foods, languages, songs, dances and other teachings. Songs often come to the pullers out on their ancestral waters.
S’Klallam canoe skipper Laura Price uses the Journey to teach the S’Klallam language. Pullers sing S’Klallam songs and keep pace using chants in the S’Klallam language.
“We look at our language as living,” Price said. “When you incorporate the language on the water, it’s like old friends – the canoe and the language — coming together.”
To volunteer at the events in Little Boston, contact Jonelle Grady, (360) 297-6276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canoe Journey landings after Little Boston
July 21: Port Townsend
July 22: Jamestown (Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe)
July 23: Elwha (Elwha Klallam Tribe)
July 24: Elwha (Elwha Klallam Tribe)
July 25: Pillar Point
July 26: Neah Bay (Makah Nation)
July 27: Ozette (Makah Nation)
July 28: La Push (Quileute Tribe)
July 29: La Push (Quileute Tribe)
July 30: Hoh River (Hoh Tribe)
July 31: Queets (Quinault Nation)
Aug. 1: Taholah (Quinault Nation)