Monday, August 8, 2011

Our summer vacation. Tribal Journey

If I haven't said so yet, or if you haven't figured it out, I am Native American. My husband is as well. I am Chinook,Chehalis, Clastsop and a little Flathead. I am enrolled at the Shoalwater Bay Tribe in Washington State. My husband is Chinook, Chehalis, Clastop as well. That is a common mix here since those tribes are so close to each other. We are a very traditional Native family as well. We practice the ways of our ancestors. We attend our church in the winter, we attend ceremonies, we speak our language (and English to of course). We make sure our children know all of these things so that they can pass it on to their children. We also partake in Tribal Jouneys every year. Tribal Journeys is a way of bringing back the ancient practice of traveling by canoe and the traditions that go along with it. It is much more than just paddling. When you arrive upon another tribes territory, you must come ashore and ask permission first. Then, once ashore, you must share your songs and dance with them, then eat their food with them and share stories. On the Journey, we do just this, all along the coast untill we reach our destination. Every year the destination changes, as different tribes take turns hosting the event. By the end, their are about 100 canoes that have travelled from all directions. They come from California, Alaska, and even Hawaii. They all converge in one spot in the end, and let me tell you, it is a beautiul sight! Once the arrival of all the canoes happens, it takes a week to get through all the songs and dances! Most nights you fall asleep to the sound of the drumming. It can go all night, and start again first thing the next morning untill each tribe has sang. This year was a bit of a shorter journey for us because the ending point was Swinomish, which isn't too far from us. We paddled on the water for 6 days, and celebrated for 7. It was a nice, relaxing, and smooth journey this year, and I am a bit depressed being back home in the "other" world after all that beauty, culture, sprirituality, and togetherness.
In our house, our year goes from Journey to Journey instead of January to January. Here are a few photos from our Journey this year.

My daughter Mary skippering our canoe. She's only 15, but after paddling for 6 years, she earned her spot...

Dad letting Maybelle drive the support boat...


Mary driving the canoe in on the final paddle...which ended up being rainy.

Our 5 year old son Ferrill after a face paint.


Our 11 year old son, Tahoma, trying to set up a tent. He eventually ended up walking away...


Maybelle and our dear and beautiful friend Wymiriangi, a Maori from New Zealand who flies all the way here to travel with us every year...


Mary, waiting for our turn in Protocol (the sharing of our songs and dances)...

Our Canoe family, well some of them got cut due to the size of the lense...

Poor Ferrill, he was soooo tired he fell asleep at dinner one night. There were probably 1500 people in there, and drumming and singing as well. That was one tired boy!

Next years journey ends in Squaxin Island, which is close to us as well. The year after wil be Taholah, even closer, about 45 minutes away only. But the year after that is Bella Bella. We estimate we will have to leave a month before to get there on time. Wow! That will be awesome!

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