The beach at Alki yesterday was full of colorful Native American canoes as members of area tribes stopped on their way to their annual gathering which is being held this year at Squaxin Island in south Puget Sound.
Here is a map of the journey undertaken by the tribes participating this year. Some have come from as far away as northern British Columbia and have been underway for over a month. All expect to arrive at Squaxin Island in time for the potlatch that begins on July 29th.
To understand the significance of this journey, I read portions of the Canoe Journey Guidebook. The 10 Rules of the Canoe are valuable life lessons, even if you never undertake a journey like this one. This guidebook also includes historical information, the legends of the 7 inlets, a description of canoe culture and the canoe movement. There are lots of photos and stories that make this guidebook interesting reading.
I got to the beach yesterday after most of the canoes had arrived. I missed getting to hear tribal chants and songs, but the scene was colorful all the same. I'm learning to use my iPad to do videos and this was an opportunity to practice.
OK, enough of my amateur attempts. Here's a professional video of the landing at Alki during the 2011 Canoe Journey. It explains the event and its significance in tribal culture.