By Peninsula Daily News staff
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Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles said a canoe en route from Jamestown overturned, but crew reportedly righted the canoe. Please check back for further details.
PORT ANGELES — The public is invited to the downtown Port Angeles waterfront to watch canoes that are part of this summer's "Paddle to Quinault" Canoe Journey come ashore beginning — if conditions are right — about 9:30 a.m. today (Tuesday, July 23).
Winds, currents, tides and waves could delay the canoes on their trip from Jamestown Beach near Sequim — and make the arrival around noon, or even later.
(See related story today: "Tribal canoe tips off Port Townsend; one taken to hospital . . . Canoe Journey comes to Port Angeles today," http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20130723/NEWS/307239990 )
As cabin cruisers and other support boats hover offshore, members of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe will welcome the canoe "pullers" (the preferred term, never "paddlers") at Hollywood Beach, located adjacent to City Pier at the foot of Lincoln Street.
Frances Charles, Lower Elwha Klallam tribal chairwoman, said the landings in Port Angeles are always special because they are typically when tribes from Vancouver Island, with whom the Elwha people share ancestry, join the journey.
Children on the beach will sing welcoming songs, and the captain of each tribal canoe will elaborately identify ask permission to land.
“We always encourage our young ones to be our speakers,” Charles said.
“Talking with the young ones, they say they wish these days [would] never quit.”
Food, water, bathrooms and first aid will be available at Hollywood Beach, Charles said, before the canoe pullers are shuttled to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Center at 2851 Lower Elwha Road, Port Angeles, for a two-day stay.
Most of the pullers also have land-support — friends and families meet them at every stop with tents, RVs and campers.
The canoes will remain at Hollywood Beach, with nighttime guards.
A Tuesday night dinner, tribal dancing (open to the public) and breakfast will be hosted under a large tent outside the tribal center gym (the gym is closed for repairs), Charles said.
After leaving Port Angeles, the pullers will spend Thursday night in a campground at Pillar Point and land at Neah Bay on Friday (July 26).
The Makah tribe will welcome travelers at Neah Bay and at Cape Alava on Saturday, July 27, said Meredith Parker, Makah general manager.
Canoes will come ashore in Neah Bay on a stretch of beach along Bayview Avenue just east of Buchanan Street.
Dinner and traditional singing and dancing (open to the public) will be hosted at the Makah community gym near the Makah Marina.
“People are very excited,” Parker said. “This is the last stop before all the canoes enter the open ocean.”
The next day, canoes will be greeted at Cape Alava, between Ozette and Cannonball islands along the Pacific coast, by some 20 to 30 tribal members who plan to hike to the cape from Lake Ozette starting at about 8 a.m. that day.
The pullers will leave the next day.
Two days in LaPush
The canoes will spend two days in LaPush from July 28 and July 29.
They will be welcomed by Quileute tribal members near the Quileute Marina, said Quileute Nation member Miss Ann Penn-Charles.
Quileute event coordinator Russell Brooks said breakfast and dinner is planned July 29 at the A-Ka-Lat Community Center in LaPush.
Penn-Charles said a second day in LaPush was added to offer an extra day of rest for the pullers and allow support boats to be refueled before heading south to the Quinault reservation
Elders and members of the Hoh tribe will meet the fleet of canoes near the mouth of the Hoh River on July 30, Hoh Tribal Chairwoman Maria Lopez said.
Lopez said she expects the canoes to arrive there between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., depending on tides.
Pullers and their families then will be shuttled to a dinner at the Hoh gymnasium on Lower Hoh Road, Lopez said.
“This is the largest event this tribe has ever seen,” Lopez said.
“A lot of time and planning has gone into this, and we're very honored to be able to host.”
The final leg of the Canoe Journey takes the pullers into the waters off the Quinault reservation, which straddles southwest Jefferson County and northwest Grays County on the Olympic Peninsula's central western coast.
Quinault tribal organizers expect about 100 canoes to arrive for the open-to-the public celebration from Aug. 1-6 in Taholah, with 15,000 total canoe pullers, family, friends and others expected to visit the tribal community.
Quinault tribal elders and members will first meet the canoes near the mouth of the Queets River on July 31, then greet them again Aug. 1 before hosting them for a week of camping, potlatches and celebration at Point Grenville, just north of Taholah.
By then, many of the canoes will have spent more than a week on the waters off the North Olympic Peninsula.
Begun in 1989, the Canoe Journey is a yearly spiritual trek during which the tribes of the Pacific Northwest come together to paddle, share traditional songs and dance, and celebrate.
Each year one tribe organizes the journey, planning the route and coordinating with the other tribes.
The groups camp along the way and meet together at the end for a "potlatch," a celebration of life that involves feasting, gifting and praying.
The Canoe Journey makes a drug- and alcohol-free space for elders and young people alike to re-learn and strengthen their tribal canoe traditions.