Perilous paddle: Another mishap on tribal canoe journey
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
A canoe of the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe is followed by a support boat as it crosses Port Angeles Harbor on Tuesday.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

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Where do they go next?
AFTER TWO DAYS of celebration hosted by the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, canoe pullers will continue west on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, headed for a gathering Aug. 1-6 on the Quinault reservation.

Here is the schedule:

After leaving Port Angeles, the pullers are expected to spend Thursday night in a campground at Pillar Point.

They will land at Neah Bay on Friday, coming ashore on a stretch of beach along Bayview Avenue east of Buchanan Street.

The Makah tribe will host pullers with dinner and traditional singing and dancing — all open to the public — at the Makah community gym near the Makah Marina.

The next day, canoes will be greeted at Cape Alava, between Ozette and Cannonball islands along the Pacific coast, by some 20 to 30 tribal members who plan to hike to the cape from Lake
Ozette starting at about 8 a.m. that day.

The pullers will leave the next day to spend two days in LaPush.

They will be welcomed Sunday by Quileute tribal members near the Quileute Marina and given a meal later that day, said Quileute Nation member Miss Ann Penn-Charles.

Quileute event coordinator Russell Brooks said breakfast and dinner is planned Monday at the A-Ka-Lat Community Center in LaPush, with an early departure breakfast planned the next morning, July 30.

Penn-Charles said a second day in LaPush was added to offer an extra day of rest for the pullers.

Elders and members of the Hoh tribe will meet the fleet of canoes near the mouth of the Hoh River on Tuesday starting between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Hoh Tr
ibal Chairwoman Maria Lopez said.
Pullers and their families will be shuttled to a dinner at the Hoh gymnasium on Lower Hoh Road, Lopez said.

The final leg of the Canoe Journey takes the pullers into the waters off the Quinault Reservation, which straddles southwest Jefferson County and northwest Grays County on the Olympic Peninsula's central-western coast.

Quinault tribal organizers expect about 100 canoes to arrive for the open-to-the public celebration from Aug. 1-6 in Taholah, with 15,000 total canoe pullers, family, friends and others expected to visit the tribal community.

Quinault tribal elders and members will first meet the canoes near the mouth of the Queets River on July 31, then greet them again Aug. 1 before hosting them for a week of camping, potlatches and celebration at Point Grenville, just north of Taholah.

By then, many of the canoes will have spent more than a week on the waters off the North Olympic Peninsula.
— Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Between 30 and 40 canoes from across the Pacific Northwest and Canada made landfall Tuesday morning at Hollywood Beach as children and adults from the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe welcomed travelers in the Paddle to Quinault journey.

Canoes arrived out of thick fog from the north — from British Columbia across the Strait of Juan de Fuca — and from the east, traveling along the coast from Jamestown Beach to Hollywood Beach.

Those pulling the canoes, which are traveling to Taholah on the Quinault tribal reservation, will be treated to two days of meals and potlatch with the Lower Elwha, leaving the Port Angeles coastline Thursday morning and arriving in Neah Bay for a welcome from the Makah on Friday.

Travelers from Jamestown Beach described 4-foot swells on the Strait on Tuesday.

A multi-tribe canoe from the Seattle area spilled six pullers into the water coming around Dungeness Spit, said Frances Charles, Lower Elwha Klallam tribal chairwoman, but a Lower Elwha Klallam support boat quickly got to them.

“Everything went smoothly,” Charles said, adding that none of the six pullers needed medical attention.

Charles said shuttles from the Elwha tribe took the six pullers from the Jamestown area to the Elwha tribal center.

Elwha tribal staff and volunteers were set to host a dinner Tuesday night and a breakfast this morning under a tent outside the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Center gymnasium at 2851 Lower Elwha Road.

Charles said the meals, tribal dances and song will take place under the tent because the building is undergoing repairs.

The overturned canoe was the second mishap on the North Olympic Peninsula portion of the journey.

Nine pullers in a First Nation canoe from Vancouver Island were flipped into the waters north of Port Townsend on Monday morning as they made their way from Fort Worden State Park.

They were rescued by the Coast Guard. Most were taken to John Wayne Marina at Sequim Bay and treated for mild hypothermia before rejoining the others.

A 22-year-old puller was taken to Olympic Medical Center because his body temperature had dropped below 92 degrees, a Clallam County Fire District No. 3 spokesman had said.

On Hollywood Beach on Tuesday, dozens of onlookers, family members and friends stood with hands shading their eyes or sat on sun-bleached logs along the beach to see the canoes make landfall.

Elwha tribal members waited with snacks packed in brown paper bags ready to be served to the weary pullers after they were given permission to land by young members of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, singing a song in their native Klallam and beating ceremonial drums.

“It's a good day to be out there in the water, paddling around with our ancestors,” said James Old Coyote, a member of the Sto:lo and Hidatsa tribes, rowing with the multi-tribal Sacred Water Canoe Family.

“It's good to see all these youth out here singing away. It's really good medicine.”

Old Coyote, from Squamish, B.C., spoke into a microphone from a canoe stopped in shallow water off the beach to greet the Elwha hosts, his voice echoing from speakers on the sidewalk.

The Sacred Water Canoe Family canoe was one of many that set out from Jamestown Beach north of Sequim to make landfall Tuesday, emerging through heavy fog that kept some canoes from making the journey by water.

Sherry Macgregor, Jamestown S'Klallam tribal elder, said her tribe's canoe and its 13 pullers was one of the last to leave Jamestown Beach, as is traditional since the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe hosted the previous day's stop.

Macgregor said the canoe she was in left at about 7:30 a.m. — which turned out to be a little late.

She and her fellow pullers had not been under way long when the support boat tailing them began to get reports of increasing swells and winds closer to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

With conditions deteriorating, Macgregor said her canoe and a few others opted to be towed to John Wayne Marina and have pullers and canoe taken by truck to the Port Angeles Boat Haven.

There, Macgregor said the canoes were able to put in, row to Hollywood Beach and take part in the Elwhas' welcoming ceremony.

“It's a bit disappointing we weren't out on the water all day,” Macgregor said.

“But then again, safety first.”

Despite the high swells and uncooperative weather, Macgregor said there's still nothing like being a part of the Canoe Journey.

“No matter what the weather, it's a wonderful experience to be out in a canoe,” Macgregor said, adding that the 2013 Canoe Journey is her fifth.

“You have a sense of your ancestors and what it must have been like.”

Macgregor said she does not think Tuesday's trip is necessarily a bad omen for pulling later this week, adding that past journeys have seen inclement weather one day and nothing but sunshine and calm water the next.

“We're always optimistic about the next day,” Macgregor said.

Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at

Last modified: July 23. 2013 10:40PM
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