Canoe family starts journey

07.19.2018 Danielle Frost Culture, Tribal Employees

The Tribe’s annual Canoe Journey began Thursday, July 19, when family, friends, employees and Elders gathered at the Grand Ronde Community Center to wish the travelers well.

Tribal Elder and past Tribal Council Chairwoman Kathryn Harrison offered an invocation. Current Tribal Council members Brenda Tuomi and Kathleen George also attended.

Cultural Advisor Bobby Mercier thanked staff members who had worked tirelessly preparing for the Power Paddle to Puyallup.

“There is a lot of work that goes into this and I am thankful for the staff, and the many hours and meetings they attended to get this done,” he said.

Mercier, Cultural Education Coordinator Jordan Mercier, Cultural Education Specialist Brian Krehbiel, Cultural Protection Specialist Chris Bailey, Cultural Resources Manager David Harrelson and several Canoe Journey youth and staff sang and drummed, as those gathered joined in.

The first stop for the Canoe Family is in St. Helens, where they will be joined by two Māori representatives from the Tauranga district in New Zealand, Tamahau Tangitu and Te Kerekau Nicholas. The Canoe Journey exchange with Grand Ronde has been ongoing since 2009.

The group will practice paddling in the Columbia River for three days to become adept at navigating before they begin the miles of paddling starting from Samish, Wash., and ending in Puyallup, Wash.

Stops are scheduled to occur at Swinomish, Tulalip, Suquamish and Muckleshoot.

This year’s Canoe Journey is hosted by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and has the theme, “Honoring Our Medicine.”

Landing day will be Saturday, July 28 in Tacoma, Wash. Protocol is set to begin Sunday, July 29 in Puyallup and run through Saturday, Aug. 4. The order of protocol is the Tribe which travels the furthest to attend goes first.

Canoe Journey was designed as a family-friendly event to familiarize northwest Tribes with the trade routes used by their ancestors and to promote a healthy lifestyle free of substance abuse.