Canoe journey arrives on San Juan Island on Monday
Posted May 21, 2022 at 2:59 pm by Jeff Arnim
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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