Editor’s Note: The following story was filed over the weekend at the end of the first week of the Canoe Journey.
Northwest coastal canoe families continue to voyage the inside passage of Washington’s Puget Sound visiting the Puyallup, Muckleshoot and Suquamish Nations while numerous other canoes simultaneously paddle from the western and northern coasts of the Salish Sea making their way toward the We Wai Kai Nation where an estimated 80 canoes will come together for a final five day landing, potlatch and celebration in British Columbia’s Campbell River, on August 5, 2017.
Puyallup Tribal Member and Cultural Ambassador Clinton McCloud explains that the annual canoe journey provides community healing by overcoming cultural oppression through reconnection to ancestral waterways:
“I remember growing up as a kid, being a teenager and wanting to have things like this. It wasn’t there and our kids have it, and our people are running with it—paddling with it. We’re bringing it back, we’re becoming whole again. You know we didn’t have a lot of this. I felt this emptiness inside. You do these quick fixes to try to fill that emptiness, for everybody, I think all of our people go through it because we’re not whole yet because we’re missing a big part of our culture.”
Day 2 – Canoe Journey 2017: Becoming Whole People
Day 3 – Canoe Journey 2017: Puyallup to Muckleshoot
As we paddled into Suquamish, we could feel the spirit of Salish hospitality— not only by the smell of alder smoked bar-BBQ’d salmon and clam bakes in the air, but by the robust melodic songs welcoming us onto their land. In fact, we were so moved by Suquamish’s powerful voices, we decided to inquire more about the significance of their songs…
Day 4 – Canoe Journey 2017: Catching Songs from Suquamish