National Marine Sanctuaries
Our country's 13 national marine sanctuaries protect a wide range of natural and cultural resources associated with the ocean and Great Lakes. In addition, the National Marine Sanctuaries Program considers Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Native Samoans among our most important partners in resource protection within the sanctuaries.
This summer, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary was asked by the Quinault Indian Nation, host of Tribal Journeys 2002, to provide logistical support and to document the historic "return" of 22 ocean canoes to the Olympic Coast. Staff from the sanctuary eagerly joined Journeys organizers as a show of support and respect for the participating tribes -- their youthful paddlers, skippers, elders and other supporters -- and their deep cultural ties to the marine environment.
Although we participated in the Journeys, we remained respectfully outside of the experience, acting when called upon, filming and recording only at appropriate times, and always truly supportive of the hundreds of tribal visitors and their hosts. Having shared the Journeys in this way, sanctuary staff came to appreciate the marine sanctuary we "know so well" in new and unpredicted ways. Underscoring the entire Journeys phenomenon was the shared revelation that National Marine Sanctuaries play a vital role in preserving the past's legacy and carrying important traditions into the future.
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