Mother of Waters
October 15, 2018 6:45 AM   Subscribe

In the Salish Sea, Native American communities bond over a rigorous canoe voyage.

As our canoe family strokes cedar paddles through the glistening Salish Sea a few dozen miles south of Tahlequah, we count out "power pulls": powerful and prayerful strokes for our relations. One for a crew member's ailing aunt. Two for a grieving family. Three for ourselves.

posted by poffin boffin (8 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Somewhat related: Following In Their Footsteps: Could they ever understand what their ancestors endured? They biked hundreds of miles along the Trail of Tears to find out.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:51 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

This was lovely, and I wish I could take part in it. (I mean, not as me as an entity, so much as that I wish I had a cultural tie to indigenous populations and traditions.)
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:32 AM on October 15, 2018

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to volunteer for a day at the week-long gathering at the end (I'm white and how I wound up doing that is a long story). It was also so great to see so many different Tribes coming together and sharing their cultures with each other, and bonding over the things that tie the different Salish Tribes together.

By the way, if you are near the ending point (that year it was at the Tulalip Reservation near Olympia), non-Native folks are typically welcome to visit for an afternoon or so of the week-long gathering at the end. Of course, you must be respectful, act like a guest, and remember this event is not for you, but I learned a lot and I'm glad I went.

I'm hesitant to even post this, because of what white people did to Standing Rock in acting like it was a festival, but I think it's important for non-Native folks to see Native culture alive and current in the 21st century.
posted by lunasol at 10:53 AM on October 15, 2018 [14 favorites]

The journey is usually held in July of each year. In 2019 the journey will be hosted by the Lummi Nation. They have a strong online presence, and you can find out more information from them.

One warning: the last two summers the event has been impacted by heavy smoke from Canadian and other sources os forest fires.
posted by kestralwing at 12:21 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

One of the most important experiences in my 20-year career as a community newspaper reporter in the Pacific Northwest was the opportunity to get to know and write about the local tribes, their history, their art and their dedication to reclaim and pass along their heritage. One of my first big stories was the first canoe journey, the Paddle to Seattle. I drove a small outboard across Puget Sound, ahead of the canoes, as the photog snapped away. We had a great time and the arrival was unforgettable. I will have to find that story.
posted by kemrocken at 2:49 PM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yes, I would like to read that, Kemrocken.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:23 PM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have a patient who is native and paddles in a boat full of other native women in recovery. This is an event that is hugely important in the ongoing healing and recovery for these women. I run into her around the area at various events selling “Indian tacos” to raise money for her group and despite the problematic history and nature of “Indian tacos” (google it) it’s their choice and I always buy a round for my family when I see her and she gives me a big hug. She has a bad rotator cuff and always comes to see me 2 weeks before the paddle to get a steroid injection into her shoulder so she can make it through. I’ve only been out to Alki to watch her in action once but she is bad ass and beautiful.

It’s one of those things that keeps me charged to stay in medicine despite all the shit of American health care. I can do this magical thing that fixes (temporarily) a medical problem that allows her to participate in this mystical thing of great spiritual importance to her.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:30 AM on October 16, 2018

Yes, I would like to read that, Kemrocken.

yes same, pls link us if you are comfortable doing so!
posted by poffin boffin at 9:37 AM on October 17, 2018

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