Tribal Canoe Journeys

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Participants in the Paddle to Squaxin, 2012
Canoes during the 2014 Qatuwas Festival

Tribal Canoe Journeys is a celebrated event for the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Indigenous Nations from the coast of Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon and Washington state participate every year. Canoe families travel in ocean-going canoes – many made of cedar, others made using more modern techniques and materials – and visit Native Nations en route to the final host destination.[1]


These majestic vessels, crafted from a single log often hundreds of years old, all but disappeared early in this century. It is hard to explain why so little has been written about them, as they are probably the single most important aspect of Northwest Coast culture.... the canoe was as important as the automobile is now to North America.[2]

The Canoe Journey is a revival of the traditional method of transportation and is a significant cultural experience for all participants. The Canoe Journey began in 1989, when the "Paddle to Seattle" took place as part of the 100th anniversary of Washington Statehood. That year, the state and indigenous governments signed the Centennial Accord, recognizing indigenous sovereignty.[3] Fifteen Native Nations participated in the Paddle to Seattle.

Each year, a different Native Nation hosts canoe pullers, support crews and other visitors from Alaska, British Columbia and Washington. Depending on distance, the trip can take up to a month. On arrival, visiting canoe families ask permission to land, often in their Native languages. Protocol – the sharing of songs, dances and gifts – lasts for days. The Canoe Journey is family-friendly, and drug- and alcohol-free.[1]

In 2009, the Suquamish Tribe hosted the 20th anniversary Canoe Journey in their new House of Awakened Culture, with more than 6,000 guests and 84 canoes.

The 2011 Tribal Journeys event was hosted by the Swinomish Tribe.[4]

Numerous tribes in North America rely on their canoes to get from place to place, in order to travel and go hunting to provide food for their families. There are typically three main types of canoes that were built during this time. However the way they were built varied from their different regions. The sizes of the boats varied according to the reason they were built.[5] Sizes varied from one person per boat to up to six people. A typical birch bark canoe measured about 21 feet long (7 metres) and 3 feet wide (1 metre) and could carry 4 - 6 men and about 200 pounds of cargo (91 kilograms).[5]

Native American canoes differ greatly compared to the rest. These canoes are the most traditional used North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Through all the different designs of their boats, tribes would be able to recognise each other by the profiles of the boats.[6] As mentioned earlier the typical three types of canoes are, dugout, bark, and plank canoes. These all fall under the category of Native American canoes.

Native American Bull Boats were ideally steered by women who would export goods riding down river. These "boats" were made in a round basket like shape covered with buffalo fur amongst the outside of the basket and the main functions of them were basically used for carrying much weight (up to a half a ton) while in water.

In our society today tribes still participate in the use of canoes, however they are the modern day canoes with functions that are not a necessity today. Although they use modern canoes rather than the ones established back then, they can still be seen in festivals and they are often used as display.[6]

Chief Mike Wyse, of the Snuneymuxw Nation, asserted that the Tribal Canoe Journey 2020 has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time since 1993 that there will be no canoe trip. "Given the enormous risk to the lives and health of our Elders, children, youth and families posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Snuneymuxw First Nation is informing you that we will postpone Tribal Journeys 2020, Paddle to Snuneymuxw until further notice."[7] However, he stated later on that the Tribal Journeys will happen at a later date that has not been decided yet, but will happen when public health authorities advise the pandemic has subsided and the safety of the public can be assured.

on October 30, 2020, the Executive Council of the Tla'amin Nation also asserted that Tribal Journeys 2021 has been postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic. For the second year in a row, tribal communities from the Pacific Northwest will not gather. Hegus John Hackett of the Tla'amin Nation stated "We recognize the tremendous impact of our decision and understand there will be great disappointment at the postponement of this event. We hope, however, you can appreciate we have taken these actions out of an abundance of care and caution. The Tla'amin Nation looks forward to welcoming you to our territory at a future time and we will be putting our name on the host list for a future date to be determined"

List of journeys by year[edit]

Future Journeys:


  1. ^ a b Paddle to Quinault Canoe Journey Staff. "Paddle to Quinault 2013". Quinault Nation. Retrieved 13 January 2013.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Neel, David The Great Canoes: Reviving a Northwest Coast Tradition. 1995. Douglas & McIntyre. Vancouver. p. 1. ISBN 1-55054-185-4
  3. ^ Olympic Peninsula Intertribal Cultural Advisory Committee (2002). Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-3552-2.
  4. ^ "Canoe Journey". Archived from the original on October 22, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Native Indian Canoes for kids ***". Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  6. ^ a b "Native American Boats: Bull-Boats, Rafts, and American Indian Canoes". Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  7. ^ lrinspire (2020-03-31). "Tribal Journeys 2020, Paddle to Snuneymuxw Postponed". LRInspire. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  8. ^ Need, David. The Great Canoes: Reviving a Northwest Coast Tradition. 1995. Vancouver/Toronto. Douglas &McIntyre. p. 3. ISBN 1-55054-185-4
  9. ^ "Triba Canoe Journeys". Washington Tribes. Archived from the original on 23 April 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  10. ^ Walker, Richard. "Short Strokes: 2015 Canoe Journey Will Be Several Mini-Journeys". Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved 19 April 2015.

External links[edit]