Paddle to Squaxin: Connecting Pacific Northwest Canoe Waterways

Paddle to Squaxin: Connecting Pacific Northwest Canoe Waterways

Pacific Northwest Annual Canoe Journey


Member Press ReleaseOn July 29, 2012, The Squaxin Island Tribe will host the Paddle to Squaxin 24th Annual Canoe Journey, an inter-tribal celebration of Pacific Northwest canoe culture and tradition. More than 100 canoes will land at the Port of Olympia, in Washington state, with thousands of people joining together to welcome each arrival.


For centuries, Pacific Northwest tribal people navigated the waterways in intricately carved dugout canoes. The Salish Sea, the body of water that encompasses Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia in Canada, were the central force that connected canoe cultures for inter-tribal communication and trade. But early federal government mandates outlawed many tribal traditions, resulting in the almost lost art of canoe building, and ceremonial practices.


In 1989, the Canoe Journey event, originally called "Paddle to Seattle", was organized as a revival of the canoe culture traditions and the Native American contribution to the Washington State Centennial. Today, tribes from Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and the Seminole Tribe in Florida participate.


The Bella Bella, from British Columbia, Canada, will travel more than 1,000 miles over 23 days. As the canoes arrive at the host site on July 29th, each canoe family asks for permission to come ashore, according to their own culture and protocol. Paddles are raised, signifying "We come in peace." The Squaxin Island Tribe will then host a week of traditional potlatch ceremonies and festivities with daily performances by dancers, singers and storytellers.

Potlatch ceremonies and performances will continue after the landing to Kamilche, Washington at the Squaxin Island Community. The public is welcome but is asked to respect ceremonies, while in the protocol tent. Potlatching begins on July 30th and ends on August 5th.


"Teachings of Our Ancestors" is the guide for the 2012 Canoe Journey. "These teachings are the center of our lives and cultures, as it is our ancestors that teach us that we must care for our elders, each other, our children, and the earth because each is a part of our past, present and future," said Charlene Krise, Squaxin Island Museum Executive Director.

Support the Paddle to Squaxin 2012

There are various opportunities to support the Paddle to Squaxin and to help make this important event a success. The following are available sponsorship levels, taken from the contemporary names of Native American ancestral lands, each of which is equally important to the People of the Water.

  • Noo-Seh-Chatl of Henderson Inlet watershed
  • Steh Chass of Budd Inlet watershed
  • Squi-Aitl of Eld Inlet watershed
  • Sawamish/T'Peeksin of Totten Inlet watershed
  • Sa-Heh-Wa-Mish of Hammersley Inlet watershed
  • Squawksin of Case Inlet
  • S'Hotle-Ma-Mish of Carr Inlet watershed.

For more information about these sponsorship opportunities, contact Margaret Foley at +1 (360) 432-3952 or mfoley[at] (Subject line: "2012 Canoe Journey Sponsorships").


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