Canoe Journey-Paddle to Puyallup:
“This ledger is called “Paddle to Puyallup-Seattle Landing”. It was created at the Puyallup hosting and protocol event, 2018, which is the culmination of the Canoe Journey. The signatures of participants were gathered during meals and protocol. The Canoe Journey has become an important cultural event, underscoring the message that we are still here. This image represents the Seattle/Alki Beach landing (Alki is also the site of the very first settlement created by Europeans who came with the intention of conquering our land and obliterating us in the process if necessary). Hundreds of canoes made their ceremonial entrance here on their way to Puyallup.
The image is created on a nautical map of the Seattle Harbor. The canoe and its family are superimposed over Alki Point, as though breaking through the land and water. The fishing waterway through which salmon still enter for spawning, and from which the Muckleshoot still exercise their sovereign rights to fish, cuts right through the middle of the canoe, providing the strength of our salmon relatives to the canoe family.”
In 2018, two of my granddaughters are members of the Quinault Canoe Family. Their father is skipper on one of the canoes. Their cousins—my other granddaughters—were there to greet and welcome them—along with 2 more generations of the family. These tribal connections will continue to sustain and empower our next generations.
16 years earlier, in the year 2002, was the first time a Muckleshoot canoe family joined the Canoe Journey. It departed from Alki Point in West Seattle, bound for Suquamish and points beyond. This journey would culminate at my daughter’s Quinault Indian Reservation on the Pacific Ocean. I was preparing to begin a job working with the Muckleshoot youth, and my friend, Todd Laclair invited me the launching. The chairman of the Muckleshoot Tribe, John Daniels, was there. The Muckleshoot Canoe Family was led by Walter Pacheco. He agreed to let me participate on this leg of the Canoe Journey. I intended prayers for my daughter in her fight for life against cancer. These prayers would travel from Seattle, where she was a patient at Seattle Children’s Hospital, to her home on the Ocean. Happy accident, then, that the crew was short a few people. I asked if I could help. Even though I had not been through the training rounds with them. They finally agreed, making me the skipper, not so much for my leadership skills, but because being part of the engine is more strenuous than being the rudder.
My prayers were realized, and respected by these Indian relatives. We all pray that our nations be healed from our broken state of existence and this journey proved to be good medicine.
Robert “Running Fisher” Upham, aka Harlem Indian
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