Aug. 3 - Aug. 13, 2002
Tribal Journeys is an event among many in a cultural resurgence among Northwest Coast Native Americans and First Nations. It is a reaffirmation of lifeways practiced for millenia, a reawakening of Canoe Culture. For its participants, their villages and hosts, it is a celebration of dependence on the ocean. It is a common expression within villages of ancient knowledge and tradition, it is the solitary expression of strength and courage for paddlers and it is a triumph of survival for Native people. For those of us who view it from outside it is a telling glimpse of ecological and cultural values that are powerfully true to place, uplifting and inclusive to Native Americans and non-Native Americans alike.
Begun in 1989 to commemorate Northwest canoe peoples' cultural links to the marine environment, Tribal Journeys is a powerful expression of the highly sophisticated relationship between people and the ocean that was here when the first Europeans visited the Pacific Northwest. Far from "discovering" these lands, the explorers entered a world already well discovered by a large population of people knowledgeable in the ways of the ocean, its living organisms, its climate, brooding forests and shores.
This year Tribal Journeys brought 22 ocean canoes from traditional villages and Indian reservations spanning hundreds of miles of rugged coastline, from Vancouver Island, Puget Sound and Washington's Olympic Coast. This year's host, the Quinault Nation, celebrated their arrival on August 10 with feasting, dances and a traditional potlatch that lasted for 4 days. Along the way the flotilla was hosted in traditional villages and small towns according to local tribal (or non-tribal) customs.
NOAA's Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary played a small role in helping. Our staff documented the journey as a gift to the Tribes and Nations that are our partners. For two days, we furnished our research boat Tatoosh, as a safety and support vessel. From Neah Bay, at the north end of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, home of the Makah Nation, to Taholah in the south of the Sanctuary, home of the Quinault Nation, we celebrated the Olympic Coast and its rich cultural legacy with the canoe crews, support crews and families of the pullers. In the process, we came to see the place with new eyes and to appreciate its deeper dimensions-born long before any of us were living, when the only human voices over the Olympic Coast waters were those of canoe pullers, singing.
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary wishes to thank the following for their roles in Tribal Journeys and their generous assistance in sharing the Journeys with others: Guy Capoeman, Michele Aguilar-Wells and Shakey Jackson, Quinault Indian Nation; Polly McCarty , Donny Vinske, Theron Parker, and Janine Bowechop, Makah Tribe; Al Charles, Lower Elwha Tribe; Andy Palmer and Jay Moeller, who crewed Tatoosh; John Brooks, Sanctuary Program videographer; and all the pullers, their families and supporters who made the Journeys possible.
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