-- When it comes down to it, it's all about family and tradition
and culture. Passing on lessons learned by the elders to the youngsters,
and bringing them up to live those lessons.
Tulalip Tribes honored their ancestors and their family traditions
Saturday by hosting a potlatch, a ceremony in which the tribe gives
gifts to others as a way of sharing their accomplishments, said
Ray Fryberg, head of the Tulalips' Canoe Family.
potlatch marked the final day of the six-day Canoe Journey 2003,
during which about 60 canoes from nearly 40 tribes in Washington
and British Columbia paddled to the shores of Tulalip Bay.
2,000 people gathered in a huge tent for the potlatch.
time of giveaway (for the tribes) is to show what they've accomplished,"
Fryberg said. "When our elders pass, that is their time of
giveaway -- they've given all they have.
our territory, they say your status is measured by the visitors
who come to you," he said. "Those who come here today
recent times, society has become more materialistic and focused
on what people keep for themselves rather than what they give away,
have to move our culture forward at the same pace as progress, moving
forward, but looking back," he said.
Chairman Herman Williams Jr. thanked all of the tribes who came
to Tulalip and said there were many lessons learned.
recalled in his childhood often being disciplined by his grandmother.
got my ears pulled a lot. I got disciplined a lot, but she seldom
thanked me," he said. "Last night, my grandmother came
to me in a dream. She thanked me for what we're doing for the tribe."
children were a large part of the Canoe Journey, with some as young
as 6 joining the older paddlers. And children were a large part
of the Tulalips' Canoe Family, which presented songs and dances
in a show of respect for all those who came to visit them.
in the Tulalips' stark red and black, the garments adorned with
bead designs and small wooden paddles, or appliques of orca whale
fins, canoes and paddles, Canoe Family members danced solemnly,
their young faces aglow with pride and determination to follow the
drumbeats and properly execute the dances.
most of the dancers were women and girls, some men and boys carried
carved spears and stalked like hunters.
was fortunate to stay up all night and watch the performances,"
tribal council member Marlin Fryberg Jr. said. "I was very
pleased to see the little ones woken up and told, 'It's our time,'"
was taught to pass on the teachings," he said, recalling his
own experiences as a youth, both in manning a canoe on a paddle
to Victoria, B.C., and as a 19-year-old racing canoes.
was quite an experience," he said. "What this does for
our children really warms my heart. It's quite a prevention program.
If our children weren't here, I don't know where they'd be."
year's Canoe Journey theme is "unity through healing."
Everywhere there were T-shirts and signs promoting healthy children
and the need to stop drug and alcohol abuse among Indian tribes.
Tulalips rejoiced in their good fortune as hosts of this year's
journey. It's the first time the tribe has hosted the Canoe Journey,
and the Tulalips probably won't have another chance for many years,
making their presentation to the other tribes, the Tulalips called
on hereditary chiefs, tribal chiefs and other tribal officials and
began presenting gifts to all those who came. Each chief was wrapped
in a blanket, given his gifts and thanked for his tribe's participation.
visiting tribes leave Tulalip for the journey home.
touched me so deeply, from the little ones to the elders,"
Williams said to the group before the potlatch ended. "You've
touched me so deeply that I've committed myself to participate in
Canoe Journey 2004."