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The Quileute tribe expects up to 5,000 visitors today (Sunday) and Monday during the LaPush stop on the “Paddle to Quinault” Canoe Journey, according to Quileute event coordinator Russell Brooks.
It's the next-to-last stop before the scores of canoes, which have traveled from all over the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, arrive Wednesday and Thursday at the Quinault reservation on the Olympic Peninsula's west-central coast for a weeklong celebration.
The Quileute have prepared two days of celebration to give the tired pullers a break.
Between 20 and 40 vendors will sell goods and food, free shuttle services will be provided, and the public is welcome at both today's traditional welcome of the canoes at James Island Point — a spit of land that curves out from the shore of LaPush into the mouth of the Quillayute River — and Monday's all-day protocol,which is traditional singing and dancing, at the A-Ka-Lat Community Center.
“The Quileute tribe welcomes the community and all visitors to join us for this historic event,” Tribal Chairman Tony Foster said.
In addition to the general public, many of the visitors will be the canoeists' friends, families and land and sea support crews.
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.
This year's trek takes pullers into the open ocean today.
Originally, they were to stop in Neah Bay on Friday and at Cape Alava south of there Saturday, but the pullers decided to stay over another day in Neah Bay instead and leave for LaPush today (Sunday), said Meredith Parker, Makah general manager.
The pullers in 55 canoes received a traditional welcome on the beach along Bayview Avenue east of Buchanan Street on Friday, followed by dinner at the Makah community gym.
On Saturday, instead of traveling to Cape Alava, between Ozette and Cannonball islands, the pullers reviewed the weather and wave conditions and decided to stay put until early this morning, Parker said.
The Makah opened the football field and the tribal center to campers, and some people stayed at private residences.
The pullers were expected to leave Neah Bay at about 4:30 a.m. today (Sunday) and begin arriving at James Island Point in LaPush during midafternoon at the earliest today, continuing through early evening.
Quileute tribal elders, members of the past and present Quileute Tribal Council and the Quileute Days royalty will welcome the canoes ashore.
Dinner will be served at the A-Ka-Lat center outside circle.
On Monday breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the A-Ka-Lat center outside circle, and protocol will begin at about 9 a.m. inside the center.
A traditional feast will be served from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. that night.
Today and Monday, vendors will sell art, crafts, clothing and food at the Community Center across from the River's Edge restaurant and beside the Tribal Administration Office.
Vendors will be open from noon to midnight today and from 8 a.m. to midnight Monday, Brooks said.
To help alleviate traffic congestion, visitors are encouraged to take the free Forks shuttle to and from LaPush.
It will leave from the Forks Transit Center at 551 S. Forks Ave., somewhat hourly throughout both days, and make other stops in Forks before traveling to LaPush.
The shuttle schedule is available at the Forks Chamber of Commerce, 1411 S. Forks Ave, and at Riverview RV Park & Storage at 33 Mora Road, as well as in LaPush, tribal members said.
On Tuesday, the Quileute will feed pullers an early departure breakfast before they head south for a welcome by elders and other members of the Hoh tribe between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
After a welcome at the mouth of the Hoh River on Tuesday starting between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., they will be shuttled to a dinner at the Hoh gymnasium on Lower Hoh Road, said Hoh Tribal Chairwoman Maria Lopez.
The final destination for the pullers is the Quinault Reservation, which straddles southwest Jefferson County and northwest Grays Harbor County.
Quinault tribal elders and members will first meet the canoes near the mouth of the Queets River on Wednesday and then greet them again Thursday before hosting a week of camping, potlatches and celebration at Point Grenville, just north of Taholah.