Tribal Canoe Journeys is a celebrated event for the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.


Nations from the coast of Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington state participate every year in these Tribal Canoe Journeys. These are a sequence of canoe journeys taken up by canoe families, nations, and groups who travel in ocean-going canoes, either authentic traditional canoes, made out of solid cedar logs or various replicas using more modern techniques and materials

The Tribal Canoe Journey is a revival of the traditional Co-Salish Culture and is a significant Life experience for all who participate. The canoe culture had gone underground and had all but disappeared until 1989 when the “Paddle to Seattle” was initiated during the 100th anniversary of Washington Statehood. That year, the state and local tribal governments signed the Centennial Accord recognizing tribal sovereignty.[2] In celebration, coastal tribes organized the Paddle to Seattle to help revive their canoe culture. Fifteen tribes participated the first year. The journey started in La Push, home of the Quileute tribe, and included stops at traditional village sites along the way. Each year, a different nation hosts other Indigenous nations coming from coastal communities of Alaska, British Columbia and Washington. Depending on distance, the trip can take up to a month. Participants learn traditional canoe carving and decorating, and learn to work together as a “canoe family”. All Tribal Journeys activities are family-friendly, drug- and alcohol-free.[1] On arrival, the host tribe holds a Welcoming ceremony, with the canoe families asking permission to land. Cultural festivities, such as drumming and dancing, last for days. In 2009, the Suquamish tribe hosted the 20th anniversary in their new House of Awakened Culture with over 6,000 participants and 84 canoes coming ashore.
The 2011 Tribal Journeys event is hosted by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community the Swinomish Territory near Anacortes,WA.

Paddle to Seattle, WA ~ 1989 –
Paddle to Bella Bella, B.C. ~ 1993
Youth Paddle ~ 1994 (Olympia, in connection with the 2nd Cedar Tree Conference)
Full Circle Youth Paddle ~ 1995 (in Puget Sound, Washington State)
Full Circle Youth Paddle ~ 1996 (in Puget Sound, Washington State)
Paddle to LaPush, WA ~ 1997
Paddle to Puyallup, WA ~ 1998
Paddle to Ahousaht, B.C. ~ 1999
Paddle to Songees, B.C. ~ 2000
Paddle to Pendleton, OR ~ 2000
Paddle to Squamish, B.C. ~ 2001
Paddle to Quinault at Taholah, WA ~ 2002
Paddle to Tulalip, WA ~ 2003
Paddle to Chemainus, B.C. ~ 2004
Paddle to Elwha at Port Angeles, WA ~ 2005
Paddle to Muckleshoot at Auburn, WA ~ 2006
Paddle to Lummi, WA ~ 2007
Paddle to Cowichan, B. C. ~ 2008
Paddle to Suquamish, WA ~ 2009
Paddle to Makah at Neah Bay, WA ~ 2010
Paddle to Swinomish at La Conner, WA ~ 2011
Paddle to Squaxin Island at Kamilche, WA ~ 2012
Paddle to Quinault at Taholah, WA ~ 2013
Paddle to Bella Bella, B.C. ~ 2014
Paddle to Nisqually, WA ~ 2016
More Journeys to Come!


1. EVERY STROKE WE TAKE IS ONE LESS WE HAVE TO MAKE Keep going! Even against the most relentless wind or retrograde tide, somehow a canoe moves forward. This mystery can only be explained by the fact that each pull forward is a real movement and not a delusion.

 Respect and trust cannot exist in anger. It has to be thrown overboard, so the sea can cleanse it. It has to be washed off the hands and cast into the air, so the stars can take care of it. We always look back at the shallows we pulled through, amazed at how powerful we thought those dangers were.

 The adaptable animal survives. If you get tired, ship your paddle and rest. If you get hungry, put in on the beach and eat a few oysters. If you can’t figure one way to make it, do something new. When the wind confronts you, sometimes you’re supposed to go the other way.

 Every story is important. The bow, the stern, the skipper, the power puller in the middle – everyone is part of the movement. The elder sits in her cedar at the front, singing her paddle song, praying for us all. The weary paddler resting is still ballast. And there is always that time when the crew needs some joke, some remark, some silence to keep going, and the least likely person provides.

Nothing occurs in isolation. When we aren’t in the family of a canoe, we are not ready for whatever comes. The family can argue, mock, ignore each other at its worst, but that family will never let itself sink. A canoe that lets itself sink is certainly wiser never to leave the beach. When we know that we are not alone in our actions, we also know we are lifted up by everyone else.

Always nourish yourself. The bitter person, thinking that sacrifice means self-destruction, shares mostly anger. A paddler who doesn’t eat at the feasts doesn’t have enough strength to paddle in the morning. Take that sandwich they throw at you at 2.00 A.M.! The gift of who you are only enters the world when you are strong enough to own it.

Who we are, how we are, what we do, why we continue, flourish with tolerance. The canoe fellows who are grim go one way. The men and women who find the lightest flow may sometimes go slow, but when they arrive they can still sing. And they have gone all over the sea, into the air with the seagulls, under the curve of the wave with the dolphin and down to the whispering shells, under the continental shelf. Withdrawing the blame acknowledges how wonderful a part if it all every one of us really is.

Although the start is exciting and the conclusion gratefully achieved, it is the long, steady process we remember. Being part of the journey requires great preparation; being done with a journey requires great awareness; being on the journey, we are much more than ourselves. We are part of the movement of life. We have a destination, and for once our will is pure, our goal is to go on.

We can berate each other, try to force each other to understand, or we can allow each paddler to gain awareness through the ongoing journey. Nothing sustains us like that sense of potential that we can deal with things. Each paddler learns to deal with the person in front, the person behind, the water, the air, the energy; the blessing of the eagle.


The Ten Rules of the Canoe were developed by the Quileute Canoe contingent for a Northwest Experimental Education Conference in 1990.
P.S. Never, NEVER call CANOE a “boat”. Them’s splashin’ in words, friend. / You might get thrown in the water, or get to dance, to clear the score. :-)

1st Journey Tips
FIRST-TIMER?  Don’t worry, you will learn as you go.

Remember …
It is a JOURNEY …

A Cultural, Spiritual, Emotional, Mental, Physical and VERY Personal journey.

We learn, change, and grow in the process.

We stretch beyond the boundaries and limitations that we, and others have set for us, as we rise above the “circumstances” to meet the needs and expectations of the journey.
Things everyone can do to promote a positive journey experience:
* Be kind and considerate.
* Keep a good attitude.
* Smiling is good. It improves everyone’s looks, and outlook.
* Be thankful. Show appreciation to Host, Crewmates, and Others.
* Show respect. Courtesy and respect are always appropriate.
* Help make sure that Elders, little children, and Special-Needs folks are cared for.
1. Do they need food or beverage?
2. Are they warm enough? Or too warm?
3. Do they need shelter from rain or sun, or a drink of water to cool off?
4. Do they need to find a restroom? Or need help getting there – quick?
5. Are other people crowding in front of them so they can’t see the event?
6. Are they being pushed aside and unable to get where they need to?
7. At meal time, has someone served them?

* Be a “team player”. Being thoughtful and working together makes a better experience for everyone, including yourself.
* If you see that someone needs help… take the initiative to help them. Or if you can’t, find someone who can.
* Take care of yourself too. If you are always too tired, or too hungry, or too busy, you cannot contribute to the good of the journey (for yourself or others).
Copyright – Sue Charles 2003, 2008


If a vessel is bigger or faster than you are, keep out of its way! Your chance of being hit increases if you’re not seen. Do what you can to be noticed.
BE VISIBLE. Avoid being a target for larger or faster crafts.
BE PREPARED. Avoid being a statistic.
·         Wear Brightly-colored Life Jacket. International Orange and bright lemon yellow are probably best in most conditions.
·         Use a Paddle with high-visibility blades.
·         Wear a whistle. Be sure it works when it’s wet.
·         Carry a waterproof flashlight and signal flares. Even if you plan to be in before dark. Wind-up flashlights don’t require batteries.
·         Bring Sunblock, Hat, Nylon Jacket and Pants – to protect from weather / temperature extremes.
·         Bring Water and Food. Be able to hydrate and nourish yourself. Include extra for unexpected delays.
·         Bring your daily prescription meds, and other personal emergency medications in your waterproof bag – Enough for the trip plus 3 days extra. If possible bring a copy of original prescription provided by your doctor.
·         Have on your person: Waterproof Personal Picture ID.
·         Every canoe should have a fully stocked FIRST AID KIT.
·         Every canoe should have a crew with CPR and Cold Water Training experience.

Band Aids, butterfly bandages, sterile gauze pads
Adhesive tape
Ace bandages to wrap sprains
Triangle bandage (for sling or large wound)
Moleskin for blisters
Antiseptic cream – topical pain relief
Antibiotic ointment – kills germs
Iodine, and alcohol pads, Hydrogen peroxide
Sun block lotion and lip balm
After-sun lotion, burn cream
Water purification tablets
Cramp tablets and sore muscle cream
Antacid tablets for upset tummy, and Kaopectate for diarrhea relief
Extra-strength Tylenol
Ibuprofen anti-inflammatory tablets
Throat lozenges
Eye drops
Bee Sting Kit / Allergy Kit (with Caladryl, Benedryl, tea bags, etc.) CLICK HERE  for info
Tweezers and magnifying glass
Small mirror
Safety pins (mix of large, medium and small)
Insect Repellent *
First Aid booklet explaining various emergency treatments

* Listerine or other mint mouth wash is said to be a good bug repellent.



Stretch of Coastline

Temperature enters into the equation

Allergies, Emergencies and First Aid Kits

You can drown in a farm pond (Staying Alive)

Hubris is a one-way ticket to tragedy

A Weather Eye

Heed your inner voice

A sudden squall

Become an expert


Outfitting is important: Canoes

Tie a knot

Make a bailer from a milk jug

Rudders too are all but essential

Topographic Maps

Reliable pocket compass

Batteries have the habit of dying…

Paddlers can never depend on being seen

Light and sound signals help

Required by law on navigable waters

Surplus catalogs

Why You Need Water

A rucksack
Emergency ration
Your PFD
That’s what lists are for

Directions: Landings – Nisqually, Puyallup, Muckleshoot
DIRECTIONS to SOLO POINT – Nisqually Canoe landing site
From Blue Heron Canoe site
Solo Point – From I-5, South of Tacoma and Fort Lewis.
Take Exit 119 and go West.
Immediately after the RR tracks veer right onto Steilacoom-Dupont Road.
At 2.0 miles turn left (West) onto a paved road (Solo Point Road).
On your left will be brown WA. State outline sign.  Stay on this road for 2 more miles until you meet the water and boat launch.
DIRECTIONS TO OWEN BEACH – Puyallup Canoe Landing site
From Google Maps

Owen Beach landing area for Puyallup Canoe is the beach area of Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, North of the Narrows Bridge. When entering Point Defiance Park, stay to the right and follow signs to Owen Beach, or use detailed directions below. There are parking and picnic areas at Owen Beach. Restrooms open from 10 am to dusk.
Address: Point Defiance Park / Owen Beach (5605 N Owen Beach Rd.)

It’s about 35 miles / 50 minutes from Olympia

From I-5 going through in Tacoma
Take Exit 132 toward Gig Harbor/Bremerton/WA-16 W
Merge onto WA-16 W
Take exit 3 for 6th Ave toward WA-163 N/Ruston
Continue straight
Turn right at N Pearl St/WA-163
Continue on Roberts Garden Rd
Turn left to stay on Roberts Garden Rd
Slight right at Five Mile Dr
Turn right to stay on Five Mile Dr
Turn right at Owens Beach Rd
Follow Owens Beach Road to Owens Beach parking area.


DIRECTIONS to ALKI POINT – Muckleshoot Canoe landing site
From Blue Heron Canoe site, site, and – Alki Beach page
Alki Point – From I-5 take the West Seattle Freeway. Take the Avalon-Harbor Ave exit/ Turn right onto Harbor Ave. Just past Salty’s and Alki Crab is Kayak and Skin Dive Park. Take the second drive to boat launch area.
From I-5 northbound or southbound or from State Road 99 (Aurora Avenue):
Take the West Seattle Bridge to West Seattle
Take the ramp towards Harbor Ave/Avalon Way
Turn right onto Harbor Ave SW
Bear Left on Alki Ave SW
Alki Beach Park is be on your right
On street parking only. Parking can be difficult during the summer.

The ending address is  1702 ALKI AVE SW, Seattle, WA

More helpful info below from – Alki Beach Seattle page

Alki Beach Location:
West Seattle juts out into Elliot Bay directly West of downtown Seattle. It can be easily reached by car via the West Seattle Bridge. From downtown Seattle, follow the signs and find your way to I5 South. Take the exit for West Seattle. Once across the bridge, turn right onto Harbor Ave SW, and this will lead you around the tip of Duwamish Head, and onto Alki point. Parking can be a bit dicey on the weekend, but with patience you will probably find street parking not too far from the main strip along Alki Ave SW. During the summer, leave the car behind and take Metro’s water taxi. The Taxi leaves from a location between piers 55 and 56, and for two dollars (each way) gives you a twelve minute ride across the bay. At Sea Crest Park, the taxi’s West Seattle terminus, you will find Metro’s Free DART shuttle is perfectly timed to pick you up and take you to Alki Beach or to West Seattle Junction.

In order to promote a safe & successful Canoe Journey event for all participants of the CANOE JOURNEY, all participants, volunteers, parents & attendees agree to the following code of conduct:

·         Support & participate in CANOE JOURNEY program activities.

·         Assist law enforcement, staff & volunteers in the operation of a safe event.

·         Report all unsafe or illegal conditions to event staff immediately.

·         Observe posted quiet hours (10pm to 6am) in & around all camping areas.

·         Keep all camping areas clean & free from hazardous conditions.

·         Treat others equally & fairly.

·         Be respectful of individuals & property.


·         Alcohol, illegal drugs, weapons, or fireworks will not be allowed at the 2006 Canoe Journey. Possession, use or distribution will be grounds for immediate expulsion from the event.

·         Campfires are allowed only in designated areas & salmon smoking-pits. Burn bans will be strictly enforced.

·         Theft, vandalism and arson will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

·         Bullying, harassment, or assault of any kind will not be tolerated.

·         Crimes or other disruptive behaviors will not be tolerated.

Gang-Identified Activity and Clothing Code of Conduct Defined:

Canoe Journey is a significant cultural event for 
Pacific Northwest Tribes & their Canoe Families. As such, all participants in the 2006 CANOE JOURNEY are expected to dress appropriately. Any clothing of a gang-related nature, which encourages gang-activity, is disruptive, and/or interferes with the cultural significance of the CANOE JOURNEY is prohibited.


Unlawful use of weapons, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or drug paraphernalia;

Any gang paraphernalia;

Clothing which promotes illegal or violent conduct;

Clothing with language or images that are vulgar, discriminatory, or obscene;

Clothing which contains gang symbols or threats;

Sagging, bagging, flagging or any type of gang identification;

Clothing should be neat and conform to the standards of safety and decency;

Clothing that exposes cleavage, private parts, or undergarments or that is otherwise sexually or otherwise provocative is prohibited.

Participants violating this code of conduct will be asked to cover the non-complying clothing, change clothes, or be asked to leave event. Interpretation of this standard will be at the discretion of event security, event organizers & appropriate law enforcement.


Suquamish Tribe Paddle to Suquamish website
Protocol Schedule on Suquamish Tribe website
Volunteers for events hosted by Suquamish Tribe : Tribal Journeys / Paddle to Suquamish
Ravan Spirit Canoe Family
Peninsula Daily News
Ben Native Canoe Events page:
Tribal Journeys of the Pacific NW lens page
Vvvvvvvv  vvvvvvvvv  vvvvvvvvvv
Fourth World Eye
Volunteers for events hosted by Suquamish Tribe : Tribal Journeys / Paddle to Suquamish
Indian Country Today: Award recognizes Coast Salish Tribal Journey partnership
Suquamish Olalla Neighbors
Peninsula Daily News: Younger pullers prove themselves ready for Tribal Canoe Journey
Go Paddle to Suquamish canoers land at Swinomish reservation
Tribal Canoe Journeys on MySpace
Jamestown Canoe Journey Blog
Blog notes – Kitsap and Beyond / Full story Kitsap and Beyond
La Conner Chamber of Commerce
Washington State Magick weblog
Greater Kingston Community Chamber of Commerce
Suquamish Washington Event Guide
Lower Elwha Klallam Library Blog
Lower Elwha Klallam Online Resources: Canoe Journey
Cowlitz Indian Canoe: Cowlitz to Suquamish
Sequim Gazette: Youngest puller set to paddle
Puyallup Tribal News (July 2007) Tribal Journeys pays respect to nature, history
Communities of Color Coalition 08/03-08/08 Tribal Journey 2009: Paddle to Suquamish
Turtle Healing-Culture-Fun for Tribal Journey Paddlers/Pullers
North Kitsap Tribal Journeys will come ashore to Suquamish Aug. 3-8



PADDLE JOURNEYS page with history of Tribal Journeys and much more
CANOE-INFO Info and preparation for Native Canoe Journeys
More Journey info: Jeff’s info web pages
AFSC Pacific NW Indian Program info pages
Tribal pages links:
Chinook Indians – info page
Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis  – Oakville, WA
Duwamish Tribe – Official website – Seattle, WA
Elwha Klallam – Tse-Whit-Zen Village News – Port Angeles, WA
Elwha Klallam Tribe web page – Port Angeles, WA
Hoh River Tribe info-page  – Hoh River, WA
Indian Health Service –  Listing of Tribes and Native Nations
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe – Sequim, WA
Lummi Tribe Business Council – Bellingham WA / Paddle to Lummi site / Stommish Days
Makah Nation Official Website – Neah Bay, WA
Native Nations Good Politics Radio blog page
Native Nations Good Politics Radio lens
Native Storytelling
Nooksack Indian Tribe – Deming, WA
NW Native Arts
Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe  – Kingston, WA
Quileute Tribe – LaPush, WA
Quinault Tribe – Taholah, WA
Samish Indian Nation – Anacortes, WA
Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe – Darrington, WA
Seattle Indian Health Board
Snoqualmie Tribe – Snoqualmie Falls and Sacred Lands Project  – Concrete, WA
Squamish Nation – North Vancouver, B.C.
Squaxin Island Tribe – Kamilche, WA
Stillaguamish Tribe – Arlington, WA
Suquamish Tribe – Port Madison Indian Reservation, WA
Suquamish Journey-related schedule for 2008
Swinomish Indian Tribe – LaConner, WA
Upper Skagit Tribe  – Sedro, WA
The Boy Who Lived With Seals – Chinook Legend book
Chinook History and Dictionary
Turtle Island Native Network Discussion Group
NOTE: If your tribe or info page is not listed here and you want it to be, please contact us through this blog (use “comments” feature) to give us your links. We will be happy to list it here for you.  Any updates… just let us know.
Share this:


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *