The most extraordinary celebration of the Pacific Northwest, its waters, and its peoples is happening this month, but it has nothing to do with tall ships. That is because this event honors the canoe cultures of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia’s Indigenous Peoples. The annual Tribal Canoe Journey is a massive mobilization of people representing tribes from around the region. Over a one week period, thousands will gather by canoe to share their knowledge and give thanks to the original inhabitants of their ancestral lands who made these journeys before them.
A revival in Native craft and traditions in the past 30 years has led to a resurgence of these long distance voyages. Some groups coming spend nearly two weeks on the move, travelling hundreds of miles along the way. Each year, the Tribal Canoe Journey is hosted by a different Native Nation who welcomes the canoes families to sleep, feast, and celebrate together. The Puyallup Tribe is the host of 2018’s ceremonies, and this year’s event is titled “Power Paddle to Puyallup”. July 27th kicks off a week of events with the first canoes’ arrival at Chinook Landing Marina in Tacoma. There will be vendors, singing and drumming, and food each day for those who participate in the long paddle. Most participants will camp out before paddling or driving home.
Grays Harbor Historical Seaport respects and believes in the importance of Tribal Journeys and other gatherings of the Pacific Northwest’s Indigenous peoples. In 2011, Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain were graciously invited to participate in Tribal Canoe Journey celebrations in the Quinault Nation. This year, representatives from GHHS will be present in Puyallup as vendors, spreading the word about tall ship field trips and The Seafarer Collective, both of which offer scholarships for underrepresented groups.
GHHS strives to offer authentic histories which represent the distinct ocean-going traditions of Native Americans/First Nations, and knows that creating economic and educational opportunities for tribal youth is critical to building strong friendships and trust. We wish safe travels to all of those participating in the journey to Puyallup this year!
Power Paddle to Puyallup
July 28th – Aug 4th
Festivities at Chinook Landing Marina
3702 Marine View Dr # 200, Tacoma, WA 98422
While the general public is welcome to watch Tribal Canoe Journeys celebrations and patronize event vendors, please note that this is a community event primarily meant for the participants. Do not photograph anyone without their permission, and please adhere to posted event schedules and zones. Alcohol and drugs are not permitted.