by Marilyn Mayers
This year, Lummi Nation hosted the annual Canoe Journey from July 24-28th. 110 canoes representing indigenous communities from British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, California, and Oregon landed on Lummi shores within hours of each other on July 24th. Days of celebration in potlatch followed where traditional songs, dances and testimonies of all these Coast Salish people were shared and honored. The theme was Sqweshenet Tse Schelangen “Honoring Our Way of Life” to inspire hope, healing, honor, and happiness.
Among the 300+ volunteers who helped out were five East Shore members—Carrie Bowman, Maury Edwards, Marilyn Mayers, Mike Radow and Jack Slowriver. Over four days, they volunteered in many ways—during the landing itself by holding the canoes as their skippers asked permission from Lummi leaders to land, and then afterwards carrying the canoes up the beach once the Lummi granted such permission.
The thousands of paddlers, their families, friends and the general public attending the event needed to be fed. The five East Shore volunteers joined with many others to prepare food, set up and clean up for breakfasts and dinners. They helped make over 3,000 sandwiches for bag lunches over three days.
An integral part of the potlatch is to witness the songs, dances, prayers, and testimonies of the various tribal communities. These were held during protocol in Wex’liem, the beautiful Lummi long house, near the shore where the canoes landed. East Shore volunteers were honored to witness these and learned much about what these native communities hold dear. The 153 necklaces East Shore members and friends made earlier in preparation for the Canoe Journey were among the gifts given to honor the visiting canoe paddlers by their Lummi hosts.
Finally, the East Shore volunteers took many photos of the cooks and food preparers in response to a Lummi request for help in documenting the monumental task of feeding thousands of people. We took lots of photos of people making Frybread, salads, beheading shrimp, spaghetti, sandwiches and the like in the hope that some of these might be used in a documentary film that will focus on the Cooks of the Canoe Journey!! It was our honor to witness and support Canoe Journey.
We want to thank East Shore for donating $,1600 to the Lhat’temish Foundation of the Lummi tribe in the run up to the Canoe Journey as the Second Sunday donation for June.