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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 3, 2003 - Issue 86


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Walking in the Sand

by Awo Saw Duk (Reggie Ward) - Part Two of Four Part Series

Seals on the beachWith our canoes beached upon the shores at Ozette, I was Walking In The Sand visiting my friends in their camps and admiring the natural world around us. Viewing the shorelines from our camps is very breathtaking. The sceneries have stunning beauty. The sandy beaches along the shores, the many tide pools with their magical world of sea life amongst the rocky outcroppings at low tide; the islands, some small and flat while others majestically stand proudly out of the sea with sea birds, colorful flowers, and small trees upon them, are scattered along the coastline, with the voices of nature, the ocean's mystical calling, the sea lions barking, the eagles calling out to each other (and sometimes you feel they are calling to you while they are looking right at you) - all these things are filling our senses with peace and harmony. The evergreen forest that encroaches upon the shoreline brings the sounds of songbirds and soft hymns of the wind blowing through the trees (and this is where we hang our food at night so the raccoons can't rob us of our precious energy supplies). Deer feeding in the grasses on the forest edge are fun to watch while they feed right alongside of our camp. The kids are much more fun to watch as they imitate ancient hunting traditions!!! These are very special days.

We spent a couple of days camping here in the ancient village of Ozette. This stopover is done each year as we pass through our ancestral homelands honoring our ancestors, for this village site has tremendous cultural significance to us. As we prepare our evening meals (that are usually fire-cooked fish, clams, elk/deer burgers… that is if your support boat didn't take off with your supplies!!!), we visit with each other and sing dinner songs at each campsite. This is fun. After the meals, people begin to wander around visiting, singing more songs, social songs, spiritual songs, telling some good stories, teaching the young ones about our historical and cultural significance, telling some jokes, singing more songs, putting more wood on the fire, lying on the sand long into the night watching the stars, and mostly, thoroughly enjoying life's experiences.

Getting the canoes back out into open waters here is quite an experience. The shoreline here is lined up with hundreds of big rocks scattered about that can seriously damage your canoe if you have the misfortune to be above a large rock when the ocean swell beneath you gives way. Since we have been passing through here for many years now, we can safely maneuver through the rocky areas, on through the kelp beds and back into the open waters and currents. Most of our canoes chose inside passages between the large islands and the shorelines. I took our crew to the southerly current on the outside. We were out there so far that the other canoes were barely visible. Back out riding the currents and telling more stories and singing more songs. These are very special days.

We had lots of fun out there. Everybody took turns sharing a story. I was being my usual goofy self and told the crew more about my whaling family, that we don't harvest whales anymore and that now I just turn the canoe, approach the whales head on, and while they breach the water's surface to breathe, I jump out of the canoe, and run up their backs as far as I can!!! They just started to laugh. This is a real fun one to tell to non-native folk who have no knowledge of our unique lifestyle and culture. One time a person asked what happens if the whale hits me with its tail. I sayz that I get flung about twenty feet in the air and come splashing back down. : This is even more fun if you don't say "Oh-well" like we do when kidding with each other on the Rez…

On this segment of our journey, I began to receive a song for our canoe, the Sali Atoo Owoosh. The song was very good to paddle to; it has good rhythm for pulling. Our canoe was named for a seal that seemed to appear fairly consistently through the journey, looking into our pullers' eyes as if looking from another world. As we neared our next destination, which was Quileute, I began a chant that we started singing fairly smoothly and quietly as we paddled in towards the village. Closer and closer we approached the village and as we neared James Island at the mouth of the Quileute River, we began to raise our voices strongly as we sang. The sounds of our voices rang out ahead of us while pulling in through the ocean swells. The return of our voices sounded most awesome as it reflected back off James Island and up and over the island sounding again as the winds carried the chant back to us. This brought on such an awesome feeling, as I felt we were traveling with our ancestors. Later that day, looking back out onto the waters from the beach, I could feel that our ancestors were happy, While Walking In The Sand…

Ozette Indian Reservation, WA Map

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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