This summer Bellingham residents will have a chance to witness a visually spectacular coming together of Coast Salish tribes from up and down the Washington coast, Oregon and lower British Columbia, Canada, and beyond as they meet and gather for trade, ceremony and celebration.
The “Paddle to Lummi” canoe journey or Sqweshenet Tse Schelangen / Honoring Our Way Of Life is slated for July 24 through 28 and honors Coast Salish people traveling by canoe from up and down the Washington coast from Oregon to lower British Columbia and beyond. The event holds special significance to Coast Salish Tribes as it honors their unique relationship and connection with the land, water and each other.
“The Lummi people are honored to welcome all our relations traveling the traditional highways of the ancestors to participate in this year’s journey,” said Jeremiah Julius, Tribal Chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council. “Together we will celebrate, honor and preserve the unique cultural heritage of the Coast Salish people.”
Upon arrival, canoe families––some paddling more than a hundred miles to attend––will be invited to share their culture and traditions. The event will culminate with traditional potlatch song, dance and testimonies that organizers say have provided their people with hope, healing and happiness over the generations.
“Over the years we have witnessed the discipline the canoe journey has taught our younger generations,” Julius said. “Practicing our way of life through canoe pulling, singing and dancing and hand crafts exercises our Tribal sovereignty.
Julius said said they expect approximately 10,000 people and over 100 canoe families on their ancestral shores–-something he says will help build strong bridges with neighboring tribal communities.
Visitors to the area as well as those in the greater Bellingham and Whatcom County community are welcome to attend and be part of the festivities. Organizers are also seeking business sponsorships to offset the cost of the journey, transportation, mobile kitchens, elder accommodation, administrative expenses and waste management. Business sponsorship is available at various levels and includes recognition ranging from acknowledgement on the event website to the placement of business logos on event banners, agenda booklets, Lummi newspaper and acknowledgement on protocol floor.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for businesses in the greater Bellingham area to strengthen their connection and relationship to the Lummi community and the community at large,” said Candice Wilson, Executive Director of the Laq’Temish Foundation, a non-profit community
Those interested in sponsorship opportunities can call 360-312-2260 or email Becky Kinley, Paddle To Lummi coordinator, at Rebeccak@lummi-nsn.gov.