took many hands to carve Ocean Spirit the past three years, and
many yesterday to clap, beat drums and carry it to the shore's edge.
with leis, conch shells, eagle feathers and tribal chanting, the
red cedar log turned Haida canoe earned its name as it was launched
bow-first into a south wind and the choppy waves of Puget Sound.
Local and Alaskan native tribal members cheered as 15 people in
life vests took their first paddle strokes in pelting rain, sending
the handsome 40-foot canoe cutting through the gray waters off Golden
Robert Peele was moved to tears.
canoe carries the spirit of all living things," Peele said.
"Today, we honor Ocean Spirit, we honor our families. ... Respect
for all tribes -- all must be honored here. Putting aside differences
journey from Weyerhaeuser forest land to the sea was not an easy
one, Peele said, but the canoe project came together despite challenges,
technical and otherwise. It took three tries to steam and stretch
out the interior of the 14,000-pound canoe, using 2,000 pounds of
heated volcanic rock. The work was performed largely in the parking
lot of Seattle Public School's Alternative School No. 1, near Northgate.
whose Haida name is Saaduuts, said the canoe's detailed symbolism
is part of its spirit. The black-painted eagle design at the canoe's
stern and the raven at the bow represent the spirits of his mother
and father, he said. Gold-painted hands along the inside rim of
the craft -- the handprints of children and adults who worked on
the canoe -- represent "reaching out and caring," Peele
was a lot of work," said Harry Snyder, 15, a student and one
of the estimated 200 students and volunteers who helped transform
the 750-year-old tree, donated by Weyerhaeuser from British Columbia
land Peele said was once owned by the Haida people.
log, donated for educational purposes, will ultimately wind up in
tribal hands; the canoe will head to Hydaburg, Alaska, in April
after a two-week display at Seattle Public Schools' headquarters.
hard work and long hours were worth it, Snyder said.
finally paddle it, to see it float -- it was an exhilarating experience,"
he said, beaming. "I'm really proud of it."
Vollan, a student teacher at the school when Peele began teaching
native and non-native students about carving, said the experience
changed "a lot of lives."
project helped in so many ways," Vollan said. "Kids spent
many a rainy day working on this, but then came the day when 'the
log' became 'the canoe.' I remember one kid who was suspended every
other day, didn't have many friends, who began working on this canoe,
and his life turned around. He stopped getting into trouble."
members of several Puget Sound-area tribes, the day was also one
of honoring one another.
Jones, director of the Suquamish Museum, thanked everyone for "keeping
our canoe culture alive."
husband, Gene Jones, 60, a elder of the S'Klallam tribe, was a drummer
and speaker yesterday, hugging Peele and others as the canoe was
launched. His grandfather was a carver, and Gene Jones recalled
seeing launches as a youth.
grandfather said no matter what, any time a canoe is being born,
we should be there," he said.
is a magnificent canoe."
reporter Debera Carlton Harrell can be reached at 206-448-8326 or