Canoe journey arrives on San Juan Island on Monday

Posted May 21, 2022 at 2:59 pm by

Photo credit — Mark B. Gardner

Gath­er­ing of the Eagles, a week-long canoe jour­ney through the Lhaq’temish (Lum­mi) home­lands, will land in Fri­day Har­bor on Mon­day to kick off two days of events on San Juan Island.

San Juan is one of six islands that will be vis­it­ed by the fam­i­lies tak­ing part in the jour­ney, which starts in Ana­cortes and will also make stops at Lopez Island, Brown Island, Yel­low Island, Orcas Island, and Lum­mi Island.

Unlike the inter-trib­al canoe jour­neys that have passed through the islands in pre­vi­ous years, Gath­er­ing of the Eagles is not a trib­al-sanc­tioned event, but rather a pot­latch-style gath­er­ing coor­di­nat­ed by com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers and organizers.

“This is grass­roots jour­ney orga­nized by Fred­die Lane of the Lum­mi Nation,” says Matt Wick­ey, who is part of the host com­mit­tee for San Juan Island and also the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Kaigani Canoe Voy­ag­ing Soci­ety. “It’s a way to bring tribes back togeth­er on the water after COVID can­celed larg­er canoe jour­neys over the last few years.”

Islanders are invit­ed to attend the canoe land­ing cer­e­mo­ny, which takes place at 4 p.m. on Mon­day at the beach just north of Ship­yard Cove Mari­na. The pub­lic is wel­come to attend the canoe pro­to­col lat­er that evening, where the fam­i­lies tak­ing part in the jour­ney will share sto­ries, songs, and dances with the com­mu­ni­ty start­ing at 6 p.m. at the Fairgrounds.

The com­mu­ni­ty is also invit­ed to take part in the canoe journey’s Coastal Jam, which starts at 6 p.m. on Tues­day, also at the Fair­grounds. Event orga­niz­ers request that atten­dees bring their own food and chairs, and would appre­ci­ate com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers bring­ing potluck-style desserts.

All events are drug and alco­hol free, and for the safe­ty and well­be­ing of the elders and canoe fam­i­lies in atten­dance – and in the spir­it of pub­lic health – orga­niz­ers request that all atten­dees are vac­ci­nat­ed and boosted.

While on San Juan Island, the canoe fam­i­lies will also take part in pri­vate gath­er­ings at South Beach, the light­house at Lime Kiln State Park, and Mitchell Bay.

Matt hopes the journey’s pres­ence on San Juan Island will remind the com­mu­ni­ty of the his­tor­i­cal, cul­tur­al, and envi­ron­men­tal con­text of the place we now call home.

“We must remem­ber those that came before and have been here since time immemo­r­i­al. We are mere­ly stew­ards here and we must stand in sol­i­dar­i­ty to sup­port treaty rights. His­tor­i­cal­ly, these were shared water­ways. [Today] our First Nations are not present – there is a dis­con­nect between tra­di­tion­al knowl­edge and local sci­ence and ideals. Canoes awak­en spir­it – heal­ing, uni­ty, the inten­tions of the ances­tors, lan­guage. Speak­ing and remem­ber­ing this lan­guage awak­ens our deep­er con­nec­tion to the Earth, ocean, all of life and the cre­ators’ orig­i­nal instruc­tions to us – to live in peace and har­mo­ny with all beings.”

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One comment...

  1. Be sure that when they land to Wel­come them Home
    This after all was their ances­tral home
    We are just new comers

    Comment by Eric on May 21, 2022 at 5:14 pm

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