TAHOLAH, Wash. - Some of the traditional Native Cedar canoes destined for the 2013 Paddle to Quinault can now be tracked online at www.tinyurl.com/K77zryw. The site, which is updated every ten minutes, features the progress of canoes from the Bella Bella and T’Sou-Ke First Nation of Canada and the Grand Ronde, Lower Elwha, Muckleshoot, Squaxin Island, Swinomish and Warm Springs tribes.
In all, approximately 100 canoes are expected to arrive at Quinault for traditional welcoming ceremonies on Thursday August 1, according to Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation.
It has been 24 years since “Paddle to Seattle” first revitalized this long held Northwest tribal tradition, and the event has gained momentum throughout the Northwest ever since, said Sharp.
“The cedar canoe holds great meaning for tribes throughout the Northwest and western Canada,” she said. “The annual journey reaches deep into the hearts and souls of our people—both young and old, and helps them fully realize the vitality and spiritual strength of their tribal identity, underscoring our hope for a sustainable and positive future,” she said.
This year’s journey is also expected to draw an estimated 15,000 tribal and non-tribal visitors to the Land of the Quinault. The destination is Point Grenville, a Quinault beach near Taholah, approximately 40 miles north of Ocean Shores.
All visitors are welcome, as is our tribal custom,” said Guy Capoeman, Journey Coordinator. “The canoe journeys have always provided a great opportunity for tribes to get together, share our thoughts, stories, traditional dance and song, and strengthen our bonds of friendship. They are a great means to teach our children about their roots, history and traditional ways. They also provide a good opportunity for non-tribal people to get to know more about us, and strengthen relations between Indian and non-Indian communities,” he said.
“The contemporary canoe journeys began in 1989,” said Capoeman. “Emmett Oliver, a Quinault Tribal elder organized the Paddle to Seattle as a part of Washington State Centennial Ceremony, revitalizing the canoe tradition, which had been lost for many years. We now know this as the Canoe Journey. The Canoe Journey has become symbol of cultural revitalization on a national and even international level. We can expect anywhere from 90 U.S. Tribes, Canadian First Nations, and even New Zealand to join the celebration. In the past we have seen canoes from Alaska and even Hawaii join in on this event. It truly has become an amazing part of revitalized Northwest culture,” he said.
“The Canoe Journey creates opportunities for tribal members to re-learn, strengthen and reinforce their canoe traditions. So many cultural values are learned from canoeing. Among these are positive pride, cultural knowledge, respect, and a sense of both personal achievement and teamwork,” said Sharp.
Volunteers are welcome. They can register at the Event Information Center, or at www.PaddletoQuinault.org.
Paddle to Quinault is an alcohol/drug-free event.
For more information, including site maps and schedule, please visit www.PaddletoQuinault.org.