5 Things Every Seattleite Should Know About Tribal Canoe Journey

Tribal Canoe Journey is a spectacular cultural celebration in which 100s of ocean-going canoes travel from their home waters to a host Nation, stopping to visit different communities along the way. Every year a different tribe hosts, and this year the Lummi Nation - which is located few minutes north of Bellingham - is the host! 

The Eighth Generation team put together this list of basic fun facts that we think everyone in the Seattle area should know. We included a few links for those who want to learn more or see the event in person.


1. Canoe Journey began in 1989

Canoe Journey was first started in 1989 by Emmett Oliver (Quinault) with the “Paddle to Seattle” as part of the centennial celebration of Washington State. This year marks 30 years of the revival of this traditional method of transportation and the significant cultural experience for all who participate.

Travel dates & routes for Paddle to Lummi 2019, which may change due to weather and other conditions

2. "Paddles Up" is a request to land

As canoes arrive on the beach, "paddles up" signals their request for permission to come ashore. When the canoes come ashore, they'll be greeted by a tribal leader. This year, Bill James—Tsi’li’xw, hereditary chief of Lummi Nation—will greet every canoe. 

Canoe families with their "paddles up." Photo from Tribal Canoe Journeys Facebook

3. Canoe Journey strengthens connections

As stated on the Paddle to Lummi 2019 website, Tribal Canoe Journey "holds special significance to Coast Salish Tribes as it truly honors and nourishes the unique relationships and connections with the land, water, and one another. "

Photo from Stephanie Masterman (Tlingit)

4. It's the best place to learn about Native people from Native people

Stephanie Masterman (Tlingit), Store Manager of Eighth Generation, says "it is a great place to participate in cultural exchange; it is an even better place for people who want to learn about Native people from Native people, rather than from textbooks or museums collections, and it is the best place for our friends and allies to come celebrate our cultures with us."

Stephanie Masterman (Tlingit), with her canoe family
5. Everyone is invited to attend
From July 24th - 28th, everyone — from tribes to the general public — is invited to participate in the Sqweshenet Tse Schelangen "Honoring Our Way of Life" at Lummi Nation, where all will share in a Potlatch Protocol Celebration that includes sharing of meals provided by the host tribe, singing, dancing, and storytelling. 

 Watch as Chairman Jay Julius from the Lummi Nation extends an invitation in this video

More information on the Paddle to Lummi 2019, including guest and visitor resources, access to livestreams, and maps, can be found here!