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Makah welcome first canoe
By Joe Smillie
The first of dozens of expected canoes landed at Neah Bay on Sunday as guests begin to come in for the Paddle to Quinault.
A team of pullers rowed the outrigger Kaigani into Neah Bay from Seattle.
The canoe was built by the Seattle Va’a Association out of Sitka spruce from the Kaigani Haida area in the Queen Charlotte Islands off the north coast of British Columbia for Kimokeo Kapahuelehua of the Hawaiian Outrigger Voyaging Society, according to Joe Ferguson, a member of the Seattle group.
Crews took off from Sail Sand Point Outrigger on Lake Washington on June 14 and rowed up Puget Sound to Port Townsend, where they left the outrigger until Saturday, when they began their 100-mile row to Neah Bay.
The Makah Nation greeted the Kaigani’s crew with a traditional drum ceremony.
Tribes from all over the coastal Northwest will pull canoes along the coastline for the gathering which will end at Taholah, on the Quinault reservation.
The Makah Nation will host canoe crews for two days, at Neah Bay on July 26 and at Cape Alava on July 27.
After that, pullers will take their canoes to La Push, where they will spend two days with the Quileute Tribe before heading south to spend July 30 with the Hoh Tribe.
From there, the paddle ends in Taholah, where the Quinault will host a week-long celebration Aug. 1-6 .
As many as 15,000 people and an estimated 100 canoes are expected to land at Taholah, according to Guy Capoeman, coordinator of the Quinault Tribal Journey.
Held almost every year since 1989, the Canoe Journey branched off from the 1989 Paddle to Seattle, started by Quinault member Emmet Oliver and Frank Brown of Bella Bella, British Columbia.
Ceremonies like that held Sunday by the Makah will be performed for canoe crews at reservations all along the way.
Pulling crews also will spend two days with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in Port Angeles July 23-24.