A canoe family from the Makah Tribe arrives to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation Sunday during the Paddle to Lummi. Canoes are expected to make their way to Jamestown on Tuesday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

A canoe family from the Makah Tribe arrives to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation Sunday during the Paddle to Lummi. Canoes are expected to make their way to Jamestown on Tuesday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Tribes come ashore at Lower Elwha Klallam site in Paddle to Lummi

First time since 2005; next stops are Jamestown on Tuesday, Port Townsend on Wednesday

PORT ANGELES — Speaking the Klallam language, the youth of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe welcomed coastal tribes from Washington and British Columbia to the newly formed beach on the east side of the Elwha River on Sunday.

It was a milestone in the Paddle to Lummi that involved tribes from Canada crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca and meeting with Washington tribes as they landed at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation for the first time since 2005.

Marco Black, skipper of a canoe family from the Quinault Tribe, requests permission to land at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Marco Black, skipper of a canoe family from the Quinault Tribe, requests permission to land at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles said the tribe is humbled and honored to welcome 18 canoe families to the more-than-100-acre beach that formed after the removal of the two fish-blocking dams on the Elwha River.

“It has been long overdue,” Charles said. “We’re really overwhelmed and humbled to come down to witness what they have today, because it is sacred ground to us.”

She said the tribe, which usually hosts the landing at Hollywood Beach in Port Angeles, has been discussing moving it back to tribal land for the past few years, but there had been concern about sensitive areas along the beach.

Canoes land at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation Sunday during the Paddle to Lummi. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Canoes land at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation Sunday during the Paddle to Lummi. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Charles said Sunday’s landing served as a “trial” for when the tribe hosts the Canoe Journey in 2025. The first and only time it hosted the journey was in 2005 — the last time canoes landed near the mouth of the Elwha River.

“A lot of our elders really encouraged us to move forward with it, but when we announced it to the youth they were jumping up and down with joy at having the opportunity to know they were going to come to their own lands here,” Charles said. “That was something that was really heartful and overwhelming because we saw the excitement in all their eyes just to know they would be coming down here.”

Members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe sing as canoes begin to land at the tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe sing as canoes begin to land at the tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

As tribes asked permission to land Sunday, many said they are looking forward to sharing stories, songs and dances with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and others during the two-day stop.

The tribe hosted dinner Sunday and tribes were expected to share songs later in the evening.

“We’ll be having some in-house meetings to talk about strategies of leaving from here and the pull they’ll have,” she said. “It’s going to be a longer pull for them, but if they have the wind to their back like it is now then they’ll fast-track.”

A canoe is carried onto the beach on the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

A canoe is carried onto the beach on the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Tribes are expected to land in Jamestown some time Tuesday. They will then paddle to Port Townsend on Wednesday and Port Gamble on Thursday. They will visit tribes throughout the Puget Sound as they make their way to Lummi by about July 24.

Exact times that canoes are expected to land are not known and depend on tides, currents and the weather.

Darnell Tom of the Ahousaht Tribe, 10, requests permission to land at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation Sunday during the Paddle to Lummi. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Darnell Tom of the Ahousaht Tribe, 10, requests permission to land at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation Sunday during the Paddle to Lummi. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Charles said that as Elwha canoe families make their way to Lummi, the tribe’s youth will continue to speak their language when they ask permission to land. She said the youth practice year round to give speeches in the Klallam language.

“We’re very humbled for our elders and those who passed on who are witnessing this today from above … to witness their great-great grandchildren to stand on these beaches or other areas,” Charles said.

Members of the Quileute Tribe arrive at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Members of the Quileute Tribe arrive at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

She said it is humbling because in the 1990s the tribe was at risk of losing its language, but now its youth are speaking Klallam as fluently as they speak English.

“There are no words for it because it warms your heart,” Charles said. “You see the glitter in the elders’ eyes and the community’s eyes … watching them be able to speak naturally like I’m talking now.”

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

Canoes land at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation on Sunday during the Paddle to Lummi. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Canoes land at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation on Sunday during the Paddle to Lummi. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Canoes arrive at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Canoes arrive at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

A canoe is carried onto the beach on the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

A canoe is carried onto the beach on the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation during the Paddle to Lummi on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

More in News

Agnew manaccused inhomicides

Nine-month investigation leads to added allegations

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News

Martha Worthley, of Mim and Poppy Design, shows a tablecloth she designed to Alisa Martin and daughter Etta-Pearl, during the Port Townsend Arts Guild Arts and Crafts Fair on Friday at the Port Townsend Community Center in the Uptown neighborhood. The fair continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Port Townsend Arts Guild Arts and Crafts Fair ongoing

Martha Worthley, of Mim and Poppy Design, shows a tablecloth she designed… Continue reading

Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News
Braving cold steady rain and the early hour of eight Black Friday shoppers were out in force Friday looking for those early holiday bargains. Swain's General Store in Port Angeles was no exception as scores of early risers came out of the cold and rain to shop there.
Black Friday shoppers in Port Angeles

Braving cold steady rain and the early hour of eight Black Friday… Continue reading

Dancer Keely Whitmore leads second graders in teacher Sharon Fritschler's class at Roosevelt Elementary in exercises that integrate movement and a science lesson about geology as part of Peninsula Performs, a collaboration between Field Arts & Events Hall and the Port Angeles School District that brings artist educators into classrooms. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)
Artists bring creative touch to schools

Field Hall, school district collaborate on new program

Port of Port Townsend OKs project for Boat Haven

Commissioners also discuss Boat Haven jetty, Short Farm purchase

tsr
Golf at Sunland now open to public

CH Investment Fund purchases formerly private Sequim course

Most Read