Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tribal Canoe Journey

If you know me very well, then you know that I have a great love of history and culture. I garner a great deal of pleasure from learning about different cultures and expanding my knowledge of the world we live in, both the past and the present. Whether it is learning about the Mayans in Belize at the Marco Gonzales dig or exploring the Pacific Northwest native culture, I find history to be fascinating. In this region there is a rich history and culture of the Coast Salish peoples that have been here for thousands of years. I am employed by the Muckleshoot Tribe of Salish peoples whose reservation is located southeast of Seattle on the Muckleshoot plateau, at the base of Mt Ranier. Over the past year and a half that I have been out there, I have learned alot about the lives and traditions of the people. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is comprised of the descendants of the area's original Coast Salish peoples. The Tribe has lived in this area for thousands of years, possibly since the last glaciers receded. 
 One of my favorite things to follow is the annual Canoe Journey.  A re-creation of the ancient trade routes undertaken by the Salish people in canoes. There are over 100 tribes from the northwest, Canada and Alaska that take part in this annual journey. Some canoes are on the Salish Sea (Puget Sound) for up to three weeks to reach the hosting tribe. The Muckleshoot hosted a few years ago, this year  the hosts are the Swinomish Tribe north of Seattle. As you can see on the map, there are people paddling from all over the region.  This is a fantastic way to teach the young people about the old ways and to keep the history alive. The youth start training months before the journey, and can paddle hundreds of miles.

The reason that I picked this week to write about the canoe journey, is that I saw them paddling past my house on the sound yesterday morning.  It really was a sight. Canoes and helper boats alongside them, making their way north to Swinomish. I applaud the dedication that it takes to make such a journey. I wish the youth of the Muckleshoot  a safe and enriching experience with a comfortable place to rest along the way!

"daY ved ;urudubicid. " which means "I'll be seeing you" in the Salish language!

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