The Squaxin Island Tribe has chosen “Teachings of Our Ancestors” as the theme of the 24th annual Canoe Journey in summer 2012.
Ancestral teachings “are the center of our lives and cultures,” Squaxin Island Museum executive director Charlene Krise said. “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.”
The Squaxin Island Tribe will welcome more than 100 canoes to its shores on July 29, followed by a week of potlatch ceremonies and festivities, with daily performances by dancers, singers and storytellers from visiting indigenous nations. The ceremonies and festivities are open to the public.
The Tribe is working with the City of Olympia and the Port of Olympia on a parking and transportation plan to accommodate participants and visitors. Elders began making cedar bracelets for gifting in November, and the Tribe has issued a call for entrepreneurs to help meet the needs of as many as 10,000 expected visitors.
The Canoe Journey is held each summer to celebrate the revival of traditional travel on the ancestral highways of the coastal Pacific Northwest. Every year, pullers in more than 100 canoes travel from their territories to a host nation, with stops at indigenous territories along the way, for cultural celebration and sharing. Indigenous languages are spoken on the journey, particularly at the canoe landings when skippers ask hosts for permission for pullers to come ashore, and at evening ceremonies when dances and songs are shared.
The Heiltsuk First Nation will pull the farthest — more than 1,000 miles over 23 days from Bella Bella, B.C., Canada. Indigenous peoples from Alaska, Brazil, Canada, Hawaii, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Oregon also participate.