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The Paddle to Quinault Journey

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We received a letter from Kathleen Praxel about the Paddle to Quinault, a water journey that takes place each summer in Canada and the Pacific Northwest.  Participants travel the Salish Sea, a network of waterways connecting  the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Puget Sound.

This year’s Paddle to Quinault Journey embarked from Squaxin Island and landed at Taholah, Quinault tribal headquarters on the mouth of the Quinault River.  From July 15th to August 1st, this year’s journey covered over 300 miles of waterways including Hood Canal, the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca, and the Pacific Ocean from Neah Bay to Taholah.

Over 46,000 spectators watched the paddlers at different points on the journey, with visitors from New Zealand and Australia, as well as many tribes from Canada. Next year the event will start from Taholah and the paddle will be to Bella Bella in Canada – a distance of some 700 miles.

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This is Martha Boyer, Quinault tribal member and skipper of the “Chi? Swit”(pronounced Chee e Swite), a canoe named for Martha’s grandmother. She is posed before a Raven and the Box of Knowledge blanket. Martha’s photo and pictures of the Chi? Swit are in the Lake Quinault Museum, Quinault, Washington.  The museum was opened 10 years ago and includes history, photos and artifacts from the nearby communities of Quinault, Amanda Park, Queets, Clearwater, Neilton, Humptulips, and Taholah.  You can learn more about the museum on its Facebook page.

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This is  group of  “pullers” with Kathleen’s husband, Ed, at their place on the North Shore of Lake Quinault.

The journey is designed to strengthen participants’ ties to their history and homeplace. To learn more about the Journey and the people involved, please enjoy this feature in the North Kitsap Herald, “Canoe Journey helps participants connect with who they are | Paddle to Quinault.” Thanks to Kathleen for telling us about this journey and sharing her wonderful photos. And for those of you who are interested in the blanket, here is the story:

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This intriguing blanket is based on a work by internationally renowned glass artist Preston Singletary. Mr. Singletary grew up in the Pacific Northwest – both of his great-grandparents were full-blooded Tlingit Indians. His works explore traditional images and legends of his Tlingit heritage translated into glass. The image on this blanket represents Raven, a shape shifter and trickster who often employed crafty schemes to achieve his goals. In the story, the old chief who lived at the head of the Nass River kept his precious treasures – the sun, the moon and the stars – in beautifully carved boxes. Raven steals the light, and making his escape carries the sun in his mouth. The sun is a metaphor for enlightenment or knowledge. The ombred background shades meet in the center in vibrant colors of sun and light. Mr. Singletary’s artworks are included in museum collections from the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC to the Handelsbanken in Stockholm, Sweden. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Seattle Art Museum. A portion of the proceeds from this blanket will be donated to the American Indian College Fund to help support tribal colleges.

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