After many long months – even years – of preliminaries, the2023 Canoe Journey To Muckleshoot: Honoring Our Warriors began in earnest when an estimated 250-300 visitors filled a casino banquet room to capacity on Saturday, January 21, 2023. At least 22 Canoe Families from as close as the next tribe over and as far as the most distant corners of the Salish Sea made the trip to Muckleshoot for the occasion and to take part in the work to be done.
Food was served, as were many, many questions, which the Muckleshoot team led by Culture Director Stephanie James did their best to answer. As Muckleshoot learned from its previous hosting, 17 years ago in 2006, being host to the Canoe Journey is an epic undertaking. This is clearly a labor of love for all involved. No single event has contributed more to the ongoing revitalization of Northwest Coastal Culture than the Canoe Journey.
The climax of the afternoon was the transfer of the ceremonial staff from the previous host to the this summer’s host, which was an event that embraced some sadness and grieving as well as love and good wishes. The Tla’Amin Nation of Powell River, BC has held the ceremonial staff since 2021. They were excited to host the journey that year, but Covid-19 had other plans.The Canoe Journey was cancelled in both 2021 and 2022. The passing of the staff was bittersweet at best for the Tla’Amin people, but they carried themselves with grace and beauty as they transferred it to Muckleshoot. Needless to say, there is much to be done. Hosting the CanoeJourney is a high honor, and an unforgettable experience for those who participate. Step up if you are interested.
The following words were spoken by Drew Blaney (Kespahl) of the Tla’Amin Nation of Powell River, BC, followed by the ceremonial passing of the Canoe Journey Staff from Tla-Amin council member Erik Manathey to Stephanie James, accepting on behalf of the Muckleshoot Tribe.
“We were on schedule to host the Tribal Journey in 2021. Of course, we had to cancel due to COVID 19. And we were really saddened that we had to cancel that because we know what this journey means to all of our people. But, we did it to keepe verybody safe, our elders, our young people, and we still think that was the right decision to cancel that event.
So, we know a big part of Tribal Journey is the passing of the staff here which has been passed from host to host for many years.
So, we’re here to do our part to pass along this Tribal Journey staff to the host of Tribal Journeys 2023, Muckleshoot. We’re so excited to travel down from your territory to your shores. We always have such an amazing time down here.
When we accepted this Tribal Journey staff back in 2020, we accepted this in Snuneymuxw from Chief Mike [sounds like] Wyse [sounds like] and hiscouncil. And it was accepted by our former Chief, Clint Williams, and one of our Council members, Tyrone Wilson. And when we think of honoring our warriors this year, we are very unfortunate to have lost Tyrone, one of our elected leaders, to COVID 19.
So, when we paddle this summer, we are going to paddle in honor of our warrior, our elected leader, Tyrone Wilson, who was there when we accepted this staff. So, we just want to share a quick song here and I have my family here. This is my older brother here, tiyapthot, Erik Blaney, He is one of our elected leaders of our nation and Lori Wilson, also one of our elected leaders. And I stand here again with my mother Gail, my sister Sosan and my nieces and nephews here.
And so, we’re going to share a song before we pass this Tribal Journey staff to Muckleshoot. And we’re going to sing our warrior song and if anybody wants to get up and do a warrior dance, you’re more than welcome.”
The Muckleshoot Messenger is a Tribal publication created by the Muckleshoot Office of Media Services. Tribal community members and Tribal employees are welcome to submit items to the newspaper such as news, calendar items, photos, poems, and artwork.