When worlds collide

Posted by Ken Campbell July 28, 2012 0 Comment 1604 views
The annual Northwest Coast Indian Canoe Journey is underway, destination Squaxin Island. The event is an imposing collection of tribal canoes and paddlers, over 100 boats in all, with representatives from Washington, British Columbia and Alaska coming together to celebrate native heritage. The armada came past our place at Salmon Beach a couple of mornings ago and I had to take a board out to meet a few of the boats as they made their way south.
Because of the way the current moves in the Narrows, the canoes were running down the west side of the channel, so it took me a while to get over and once I got there, it took a considerable amount of effort to hold my position against the strong southerly flow. The canoes approached and passed quickly, using the speed of the current as well as the power from their strokes to glide past me. A few of the boats had drum beats or flute music that helped the paddlers keep time, and I could feel the energy flow from the different groups as they made their way south.
The traditional Salish greeting is (according to Google), O Siyam. Words accompanied by outstretched hands, showing acceptance and friendship. The interchanges between myself and the paddlers as they approached were not so traditional, but there’s no denying their greetings still had a sense of poetry about them.
“Yeah. Rock on!”
“You look sexy out there!”
“Jesus loves you!”
The various groups will be at Squaxin Island for the next week before this year’s canoe journey comes to an end.

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