Monday, July 17, 2017 marked the beginning of the Pacific Northwest’s annual Canoe Journey, a spiritual voyage embodying the cultural resiliency of indigenous sovereignty. This year marks the 27th time the annual journey has taken place since it began with the Paddle to Seattle in 1989.
On the storied shores of Nisqually’s historical Solo Point landed six canoes that travelled from Squaxin Island. As the sun warmed the crowd of elders and tribal members awaiting the canoes to land, children cooled themselves in the bay and folks talked story. When canoes landed, tribal dignitaries welcomed the canoes to shore, an ancient indigenous practice that encourages nation-to-nation relationships and community efficacy.
“This Canoe Journey is probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen come along in Indian country in a long, long time,” Larry Sanchez, director of operations for the Nisqually Indian Tribe said in the intro video below. “[It] Certainly inspires our youth to get involved in their culture and their history and that is so important to these young people.”
On Tuesday the canoes headed onto Puyallup, and will continue the Canoe Journey for the next 20 days to land in British Columbia’s Campbell River.
“To start here in Solo Point is special, special for us as Nisqually People because at the mouth of our river all the way from the summit to the sea that’s our Nisqually River right there,” said Willie Frank III, Nisqually Council Member and son of Billy Frank Jr. in the video below. “For us it’s medicine being in that water, we’re not going out there to win any race. It’s about being out there for us, traveling these waterways that our ancestors traveled. … We wanted to get to Tulalip or Swinomish you paddled. That’s what it was, that was the fastest way to get up there.”