By Frank Hanson
Please join us and witness Viola Riebe as she gifts her canoe “The Viola” to the University of Washington’s Olympic Natural Resources Center. This has been quite a story to see unfold. Dixie Laubner, one of Vi’s three daughters, said to us in April that “faith, a culturally-sensitive local historian and a series of synchronous events have led to the return of canoe to its rightful owner.”
The canoe had been on display in the Pioneer Memorial Park in Sequim since 1967. The canoe’s ownership was a task taken on by Priscilla Hudson of the Sequim Prarie Garden Club, as she wondered for the past 10 years where the canoe came from and who it had belonged to.
On April 8, 2017, in Sequim at the Pioneer Memorial Park, Kurt Grinnell, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Council member, released the canoe and Vince Penn, Quileute Tribal member, and others gathered to bless the return, removal and journey of the large hand-carved canoe from the traditional Jamestown S’Klallam territory to its Hoh and Quileute lands.
The canoe at that time was removed and returned to the owner, Viola Penn Riebe, a Hoh Tribal member. A very honorable action in itself.
Now, three months later on Saturday, July 8, at noon, the canoe, which was made by Viola’s uncle, William E. “Yum” Penn, will be gifted to the University of Washington’s ONRC as a historic link to strengthen cultural educational connections between the tribes and the College of the Environment’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences research station, the Olympic Natural Resources Center.