From June 9-14 the Chinook Indian Nation Council will travel down the Lower Columbia River Water Trail in traditional canoes. The route, starting from Washougal, Washington will include stops in Kelly Pt. Park, Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, Kalama, Mayger Dock/Clatskanie, Cathlamet, Elliott Landing/Pillar Rock, Ilwaco, and Chinook Point/Fort Columbia.
The Chinook Council consists of nine members: Chairman Ray Gardner, Vice-Chairman Sam Robinson, Secretary/Treasurer Peggy Disney and Representatives Marketa Van Patten, Charlie Funk, Jane Wekell, Lisa Elliott, Jeremy Wekell, and Kate Elliott.
In accompaniment with other Chinooks and friends, the Chinook Council will spend five days and five nights travelling down the Lower Columbia River Water Trail. This will be a celebration of the great river, Yakaitl-Wimakl, which is still home to many Chinooks today. This journey will include the chairman’s family canoe, Itsxut ("Black Bear"), the Snohomish Chairman’s family canoe Sbeqwá ("Blue Heron"), Chinook Dan Heiner’s Canoe the Beau Tanner, and will include long time Chinook friend, Lyle Deschand’s new canoe.
After spending Sunday night in the Cathlapotle plankhouse, the Chinook Council and People will meet up river at the Clark Park in Washougal to conduct a naming ceremony for Deschand’s new canoe. They will then place all the canoes in the water and begin the journey back to Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. As the canoes travel down the river, Chinook families will host dinner and provide shelter for the travelers, much in the way of their ancestors.
This week of sharing and commemoration will culminate in paddling down to Chinook Point on Friday afternoon to participate in the private annual Chinook Nation First Salmon Ceremony.
The Chinook Indian Nation/Chinook Tribes consist of the Cathlamet, Clatsop, Lower Chinook, Wahkiakum, and Willapa tribes. Despite being an influential tribe in this region since time immemorial, the U.S. government does not recognize the Chinooks as a tribal nation. The U.S. Senate shelved the 1851 Tansey Point Treaty agreements with the Chinook because they did not move them east of the Cascades. The Chinook continue their fight for federal restoration today.