From Wednesday through Aug. 1, the Chinook Indian Nation will travel down the Lower Columbia River Water Trail, Willapa Bay and the Pacific Ocean in their traditional canoes, including “k;min” (ktlmin, moon) and “skakHhwel” (skwakwal, lamprey eel).

The route, starting from Oak Point, Wash., will incorporate stops along the Washington side of the Columbia River in Skamokawa, Chinook, Bear River, Bay Center, Tokeland, Ocean Shores, and Grenville Point.

Many other tribes and canoe families from Oregon and Washington will also travel this route. The Chinook expect to host more than 300 people – including canoe families from the Cowlitz, Grand Ronde, Nehalem, Quinault, Snohomish, Suquamish, and Warm Springs – at Bay Center, Wash., for traditional Chinookan foods and protocol on July 27.

On Aug. 1, when the Chinook arrive at Grenville Point, they will participate in a formal ceremony where the Quinault grant the visiting canoes permission to come ashore. Aug. 1 to 6, the Quinault will host more than 100 canoes from Alaska, Canada, California, Oregon, Washington and beyond. They will participate in protocol, sharing songs, dances and tales of their travels.

The Intertribal Canoe Journeys began in 1989 when Emmet Oliver, a Quinault and relative to many Chinooks, and Frank Brown of Bella Bella, British Columbia, held the first journey during the Washington State Centennial. Chinook participation began shortly after with well over 50 pullers and ground crew attending this year’s event. The Chinooks use this time to share culture, traditional knowledge and friendship among themselves and other canoe families.

The Chinook Indian Nation consist of the Cathlamet, Clatsop, Lower Chinook, Wahkiakum and Willapa tribes. These five Chinook tribes are influential tribes in southwest Washington and northwest Oregon since time immemorial.

The group still is fighting for federal recognition. The U.S. Senate shelved the 1851 Tansey Point Treaty agreements with the Chinook because the negotiated points did not move the people east of the Cascades.


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