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Northwest news at a glance

Lummi Stommish honor Chief Dan George

LUMMI, Wash. - Thousands congregated at Lummi Indian Nation for the annual Lummi Stommish Water Festival & Pow Wow June 18 - 22.

The event is a gathering of Coast Salish nations from Washington's Puget Sound region. The event features canoe racing and traditional activities.

Highlights of the event included the Chief Dan George Film Festival. George (1899 - 1981) was chief of the Squamish Band in Burrard Inlet, British Columbia. From 1960 to 1980, he starred in 18 movies, the most notable being "Centennial" in 1978, "The Outlaw Josey Wales" in 1976, "Harry and Tonto" in 1974, and "Little Big Man" in 1970.

For his role as Old Lodge Skins in "Little Big Man," he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He also appeared in nine TV shows. He was the author of several books, including "My Heart Soars" (Hancock House, 1974).

The Lummi Nation also honored three local veterans of the latest Iraq War: Marines Nathan Cultee Jr. and William Dennis and sailor Phillip John, who's stationed aboard the USS Harry S. Truman. They were presented with flags, eagle feathers and Pendleton blankets, according to David Jefferson, Lummi's director of veteran affairs.

Cultee is a member of the 8th Marines; Dennis is a member of Alpha Co. in the 1st Marines; both were on the front lines of the recent Iraq War, Jefferson said. John works on F-14 ejection seats for the VF-32 squadron, known as "The Swordsmen."

Thirteen Lummis are currently in military uniform, Jefferson said. Two are sailors assigned to ships off the coast of Korea. Two others are first cousins - Navy sailor Lawrence Solomon, USS Carl Vinson; and Tyler Tom, Whidbey Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, Wash.

Doris Misanes is a Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune. Thomas Kinley Jr. has been in the Air Force for 12 years on the East Coast.

Canoe paddlers start 500-mile journey

TULALIP, Wash. - Several hundred paddlers from the Puget Sound region will paddle to Tulalip this month in a goodwill journey spanning 500 miles.

Swinomish Sen. Ray Williams said the theme of this year's Canoe Paddle Journey is sobriety and healthy living.

"The message is that there are a lot of healthy ways to stay away from substance abuse," Williams said. One way is to connect to one's culture - as the paddlers are doing - where there is spiritual grounding and heritage appreciation, he said.

Williams said the Canoe Paddle Journey revives the tradition of canoe travel and calls to mind the relationship between water, land and people.

The visit to San Juan Island is historically significant. San Juan Island was the traditional fishing, hunting, trading and gathering place for the Lummi, Saanich, Semiahmoo, Songhees and Sooke. Older Indians, such as Marge Workman (Swinomish/San Juan) of Friday Harbor remember when canoes regularly plied the waters of the San Juan Islands en route to visits or trade.

Those canoe visits were "a way of meeting with different tribes, of exchanging cultural ideas and building relationships," said Rebecca Bressan, a Washington State University intern at Friends of the San Juans and a member of the Samish Indian Nation.

Paddlers from Lummi, Samish, Sechelt, Squamish, Swinomish and Tswassen will canoe from Swinomish and arrive in the Port of Friday Harbor around 2 p.m. on July 23. All told, there will be 150 paddlers in six canoes - that's 25 per canoe.

The Friday Harbor Port Commission voted June 11 to let the support boats stay in Friday Harbor Marina; the canoes will continue on to Fourth of July Beach. On July 3, the Friday Harbor Town Council donated $1,000 to help offset event expenses.

In Friday Harbor, there will be a short informal greeting, followed by refreshments and a blessing by Chester Cayou, a Swinomish elder. Bressan said the evening will feature traditional dancing and drumming.

Early July 25, the paddlers and their support boats will leave for Port Townsend. Thirty canoes will meet there, then proceed to Port Gamble, then Suquamish. From there, 60 canoes will head to Tulalip - the final destination - on July 29.

Swim calls attention to Columbia River

SEATTLE - A Portland, Ore., man has completed a 1,243-mile swim of the Columbia River to call attention to pollution and habitat issues along the river.

Christopher Swain is the founder of Advocacy Swimming International. The 197-foot-tall, 2,690-foot-long Bonneville Dam was the last obstruction Swain had to pass in his grueling effort that began June 4, 2002 at the Columbia's headwaters at Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia.

Swain reached the Pacific Ocean on July 1.

Officers from the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission's enforcement division escorted Swain for part of the swim. Officers followed in an aluminum-hull boat used to patrol tribal treaty fishing sites.

Olney Patt Jr., executive director of the commission and a Warm Springs tribal member, said Swain's feat calls attention to fisheries issues the tribes have dealt with for decades, such as habitat loss, pollution, and spill and flow fluctuations.

"I have four days of swimming and almost 40 miles of river behind me," Swain wrote in Grist magazine after his journey began a year ago. "Already, I have tasted my first batch of pesticide runoff, kicked through sewage from leaky municipal lagoons and seen more eagles than in my last 34 years combined."

Patt added, "He is proving that getting to the ocean is not an easy task. It's an equally long, arduous journey for the salmon, and we need to take steps to make it easier."

According to the commission, juvenile salmon could travel downstream from Lewiston, Idaho, at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, to Astoria, Ore., at the mouth of the Columbia in just four or five days before the eight federal dams along that route were constructed between 1938 and 1971. It now takes juvenile salmon 30 to 40 days to move downstream if they survive bird predation, hydroelectric turbines and other hazards.

Swain said the tribes' efforts to return the river to its historic flows were a motivating force for him. "I look forward to the day there are no dams on the system and that Indian people are fishing in their usual and accustomed places once more."

Washington tribes partner for Initiative

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Six Washington tribes have received a $10,000 grant to support kinship caregivers - relatives caring for children whose own parents are unable or unwilling to care for them.

Grant recipients are the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the Lummi Nation, the Nooksack Tribe, the Quinault Indian Nation, and the Swinomish Tribe.

The Native Kinship Care Initiative has been funded by a grant from the Brookdale Foundation to the Department of Social and Health Services' Aging and Disability Services Administration and the Relatives as Parents Program.

Under this grant, tribes will pursue many activities, including:

*Native Kinship Care Needs Assessment. Native kinship caregivers can indicate their needs for services, resources and social/emotional support. The data will guide development of programs for Native kinship caregivers.

*Mentoring. On-site consultation from the Native American Kinship Care Program, funded by the Yakima division of Casey Family Programs, will provide information about their successful wrap-around services, support groups, case management, and cash support.

*Design and Sponsorship of Native Kinship Conferences. Two regional Native Kinship Care events will recognize and honor Native kinship caregivers.

*Development of Native Support Groups. The grant will support a minimum of four Native Kinship support groups. DSHS is collaborating with Relatives as Parents Program coordinators in the Olympic Area Agency on Aging and the Northwest Area Agency on Aging to implement the grant.