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Suquamish's Demain featured in video about Canoe Journey | 2012 Canoe Journey

SUQUAMISH — Suquamish Tribe elder and storyteller Richard Demain is featured in a Longhouse Media video about the Canoe Journey.

In the video, Demain shares how the Canoe Journey connects him to his ancestors. He tells of how he was taking photos during the 2009 Canoe Journey, which was hosted by the Suquamish Tribe, and four or five canoes were rafted together. Then, the canoe pullers stood up "and started hitting their paddles on their canoes and singing," he said. "At that moment, something happened. It touched my heart. I felt like my ancestors were with me that day. They were looking down and thanking us for carrying on the traditions of our people.”

Ninety-eight canoes landed Sunday in Olympia, the historical territory of the Squaxin Island Tribe, which has a reservation in nearby Kamilche; the Tribe also owns Squaxin Island. Gov. Christine Gregoire and Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum watched the landings from a dais set amid cheering crowds; many people wore traditional regalia. Seated next to the dais was Emmett Oliver, the Quinault educator who came up with the idea of the Canoe Journey while involved in the planning of Washington's Centennial celebration in 1989. Among the dignitaries on the water: state Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Anacortes, who pulled in the Samish Indian Nation canoe. Morris is Tsimshian with Samish ties.

The Canoe Journey is held each summer to celebrate the revival of traditional travel on the ancestral highways of the coastal Pacific Northwest. Every year, pullers travel from their territories to a host nation, with stops at indigenous territories along the way, for cultural celebration and sharing. Indigenous languages are spoken on the journey, particularly at the canoe landings when skippers ask hosts for permission for pullers to come ashore, and at evening ceremonies when dances and songs are shared.

The Squaxin Island Tribe chose "Teachings of Our Ancestors" as the theme of this year's Journey.

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