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Letter to the editor: Canoe Journey reflections

This year’s tribal Canoe Journey brought sacred tribes to the shores of Swinomish from distant lands with their final landing at Muckleshoot, Alki Beach. The canoe journey is a tradition that has taken place for generations. The canoes were most often crafted from a single log that may have been several hundred years old. There is much honoring around the wood used, as their use has been integral for the tribe’s survival. This was their way of travel, their way of life was upon the water. It was relied upon heavily. Many of their resources came from these waters and were ensured a soft footprint. They took only what they needed for survival with an understanding of the replenishment of Mother Nature. Different regions had different types of canoes as they traveled upon these waterways.

We cannot reflect on the Canoe Journey without putting an emphasis on the importance of the traditional ceremonies. Their meaning cannot be understated. There is a host nation that welcomes all the various tribes with immense generosity. At this point, many ceremonies are held to honor their ancestors, each person that has participated in this meaningful travel, and all in attendance. The tribes of the Salish Sea and beyond come together in song, dance, celebrational food and the sharing of intergenerational and intuitive memories. This event sees many thousands of people.

Some of us have had the great fortune to attend a landing, a dinner, a moment with a tribal friend. The canoe dinner this year welcomed us as guests and hosted here in La Conner by The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. It is a witnessing for us to comprehend another way of life. The Canoe Journey can be a process for us to better understand the importance of the land of which we reside.

If you were one of the lucky ones to attend, meet the skippers and friendly tribes of Vancouver Island and beyond, then you too felt the love brought upon these shores. I know I did and look forward to our reciprocal actions.

Lisa Versteegh

Shelter Bay


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