Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


August 9, 2003 - Issue 93


pictograph divider


Thanks Wrapped in Tradition

by Cathy Logg The Herald
credits: Photo by Meggan Booker / The Herald

DancerTULALIP -- 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.

The 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.

The 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.

About 2,000 people gathered in a huge tent for the potlatch.

"The 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.

"In our territory, they say your status is measured by the visitors who come to you," he said. "Those who come here today honor us."

In recent times, society has become more materialistic and focused on what people keep for themselves rather than what they give away, he said.

"We have to move our culture forward at the same pace as progress, moving forward, but looking back," he said.

Tribal Chairman Herman Williams Jr. thanked all of the tribes who came to Tulalip and said there were many lessons learned.

He recalled in his childhood often being disciplined by his grandmother.

"I 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."

The 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.

Dressed 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.

While most of the dancers were women and girls, some men and boys carried carved spears and stalked like hunters.

"I 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,'" he said.

"I 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.

"It 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."

This 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.

The 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, Williams said.

After 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.

Today, visiting tribes leave Tulalip for the journey home.

"You've 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."

Tulalip, WA Map

Maps by Travel

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  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.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!