Awakening of the canoes

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Tribal members clean the canoes every srping prior to canoe practice.
Photo by Monica Brown

Article and photos by Monica Brown

On Wednesday, April 17th, Tulalip tribal members brought out the canoes; Big Sister, Little Sister and Big Brother, for the traditional cleaning and awakening them. This activity, referred to as protocol, is important spiritually for the canoes and tribal members.

The significance for waking the canoes  is to clear any sort of negative energy that may be left over from the season before or any bad energy that may have accumulated over the winter.

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Photo by Monica Brown

During the resting period the canoes are housed in a special canoe shed behind the Veteran’s Center. Tulalip tribal member Jason Gobin is the delegated as caretaker of the canoes and ensures that protocol is followed once the canoes are put away for the season and reawakened the following spring.

“The water is very powerful and the canoe is what takes care of us while we are out in the water,” says Tribal member and Canoe Family Skipper Darkfeather Ancheta, “Being in the Skipper position I have felt the negative energy. If the negativity is there then the canoe will not want to turn the way you are trying to make it go.”

The canoes are made from cedar trees and have a spirit giving them life for many years so they are taken care of diligently by tribal members. At the end of the season they are put to rest in their covered area until the following spring.

Canoe practice for the 2013 Canoe Journey will be held at the Tulalip Marina at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday and is open to the community.

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Photo by Monica Brown

For more information, please contact Jason Gobin at 360-716-4370 or jasongobin@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov.