Flotilla Landing Ends 2012 Tribal Canoe Journey On Sunday

Jul 27, 2012

An audience of thousands is expected at the port of Olympia this Sunday to witness the conclusion of the annual Northwest Indian canoe journey.

The picture could be reminiscent of scenes from centuries ago. A flotilla of traditional cedar canoes appears offshore. The pullers raise their paddles to signify they come in peace.

"Each tribe has to ask for permission to land," says canoe journey spokeswoman Leslie Johnson. "They usually say please let us come to shore. We're hungry. We're tired."

Johnson says the host Squaxin Island tribe expects to welcome about 100 canoes from as far away as California and northern British Columbia.

"Some of them left a month or a month and a half ago."

Johnson says the annual canoe journey started in 1989 for Washington's Centennial and has now really taken off in popularity, in parallel with a tribal cultural resurgence.

A weeklong potlatch celebration follows Sunday's arrival ceremony. That happens on the Squaxin Island reservation between Olympia and Shelton.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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