Journey to Nisqually brings hundreds of tribal members paddling
from afar to Olympia this weekend. On Thursday they came ashore,
guests of the Puyallup Tribe, at Owens Beach in Point Defiance
Park. Peter Haley firstname.lastname@example.org
It took about two dozen people Thursday afternoon to haul one
of the massive dugout canoes out of the water and onto the gravel
shore of Owen Beach.
Patrica Elofson of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in Port Angeles
looked on fondly.
"Everybody joins in," said Elofson, 66. "Those people probably
aren't even from that tribe."
members from six nations wait in their canoe to come ashore
at Owen Beach in Point Defiance Park on Thursday. Hundreds
of paddlers are participating in a journey to Nisqually, which
is this weekend in Olympia. Peter Haley email@example.com
That camaraderie between tribes and among friends old
and new was on full display, as nearly 5,000 Native American
people landed in tribal seafaring canoes at Point Defiance.
It was one of the final stops on the 2016 Paddle to Nisqually,
a heavily spiritual and cultural canoe journey down the saltwater
highways to the Port of Olympia, where they will land Saturday.
Some of the canoes, hailing from as far away as Canada, were
in the final leg of a two-week journey. Thursday morning, they paddled
28 miles to reach Point Defiance from Seattle. They will leave again
Friday (July 29).
Irene Peters, 17, also of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, has
spent the last few years on grounds crew, preparing to welcome the
canoes when they land.
This year, when Elofson told her they needed more people on
the canoes, she got the chance to go to sea once again.
After days of traveling, Peters was tired and sore but
the work was worth it, she said.
"I kept pulling," she said. "It's a shared experience that allows
us to unite, not only as coastal tribes, but as Native Americans."
The solidarity didn't end there identical black and white
T-shirts could be seen everywhere on the packed beach. On the front
was a photo of Jacqueline "Jackie" Salyers.
Tacoma police fatally shot the 33-year-old Puyallup tribal member
Jan. 28 because they feared she was driving her car at them.
On the back of the shirts was the declaration: "Native Lives
Clinton McCloud of the Puyallup tribe, who helped organize the
Point Defiance landing and celebration, said many members of the
local tribes don't believe the evidence adds up.
Elofson and Peters were among those wearing the "Justice for
"It's emotional. It's rough," Elofson said. "We're all supporting
native groups who are concerned about the injustices we face on
a regular basis."
"It's our way of saying, 'We won't stand for injustice,' " added
Elofson's granddaughter Gillian Elofson, 17.
Yet part of the value of the canoe journey, Patricia Elofson
said, was spiritual healing, and learning about the culture they
share. That's why there was such emphasis on bringing youthful members
of the tribe, such as Peters and Gillian Elofson, to the gathering,
"It's a whole new generation," Patricia Elofson said. "(Gillian's)
mom is here too, so we have three generations on this journey."
When another tribe visits, McCloud said, it's traditional to
feed them. So as the last of the canoes were pulled onto the beach,
everyone prepared to go to Chief Leschi School, where the Puyallup
tribe welcomed them with a cultural celebration full of food, song
Gillian Elofson said everyone tribal or not was
welcome at the celebration to watch or take photos.
McCloud said the celebration is an important chance to put their
cultural pride on display and the annual canoe journey an opportunity
to celebrate their heritage and share it with others.
"It's a piece of who we are," he said.
Hannah Shirley: 253-597-8670, @itshannah7
2016 PADDLE TO NISQUALLY
What: More than 120 canoes landing;
afterward, the Nisqually tribe will host 10,000 guests.
Where: Port of Olympia.
When: The landing ceremony, in
which canoe families ask for permission to come ashore, often in
their native language, is expected to take several hours. The event
opens at 10 AM and the canoes are expected to begin arriving about
Parking: Designated downtown lots
or on the street. Access to Marine Drive will be restricted starting
at the Marine Drive-Jefferson Street and the Market Street-Franklin
Street intersections, where free shuttle service will begin at 10