Little pullers, big ambitions

Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Through the commitment and guidance of several Tulalip tribal members, led by Natasha Fryberg, the Tulalip Tribes has its very own youth canoe club. They’ve been practicing three times a week, rain or shine, since April. With a consistent turnout of kids and their dedicated parents, the canoe club has established itself as a safe and fun activity for our youth to practice traditions of our ancestors.

“For most of these kids, this was their first ever experience with pulling canoe. We teach them the skills and proper technique outside of the canoe first,” says Natasha. “We really focus on each kid’s individual comfort level, so that they enjoy their experiences in the water and in the canoe.”




The current age range is of club members is 5-years-old to 16-years-old, with a good mix of boys and girls. A goal of Natasha and her fellow instructors is to train the canoe club members to the point they can participate in the war canoe races circuit. Thus far, the future is bright as the kids have really taken to the water and enjoy the rigorous activity of war canoe racing during their practices.




“My kids had zero previous experience with canoe pulling, let alone being in a canoe until now,” says Nickie Richwine, mother of three daughters participating in the canoe club. “It’s been an honor to watch these kids excel on the water. I’m so thankful for their coaches Natasha and Tawny Fryberg, Alicia and Clayton Horne, and Ryan. They’ve really been a blessing for taking the time to teach and encourage our kids to be on the water.”

For those interested in getting their kids involved with Tulalip’s youth canoe club, please contact Natasha Fryberg at 425-422-9276.



When tragedy struck, Washington state boy found healing in a canoe

Hamilton Seymour, 15, of Bellingham, Wash., introduced first lady Michelle Obama at the first White House Tribal Youth Gathering in Washington, D.C., on July 9, 2015.ROB HOTAKAINEN — McClatchy
Hamilton Seymour, 15, of Bellingham, Wash., introduced first lady Michelle Obama at the first White House Tribal Youth Gathering in Washington, D.C., on July 9, 2015.




WASHINGTON — After losing his father to suicide in 2012, teenager Hamilton Seymour said he wanted to find something positive in his life: He found healing by paddling his canoe.

“It’s my personal outlet,” said Seymour, a 15-year-old member of the  Nooksack Indian Tribe from Bellingham, Wash. “It’s where I can get away, even if I’m with people.”

Convinced that exercise is “a stress reliever” and the key to improving mental health, Seymour now is pushing other members of his tribe to deal with grief and celebrate their culture by carving canoes and singing traditional Native songs as they paddle their way to fitness. His efforts are gaining attention.

After Seymour won a national award earlier this year from the  Center for Native American Youth, he found the spotlight on Thursday at the first White House Tribal Youth Gathering, when he was picked to introduce  first lady Michelle Obama before her speech to the group.

“It was just surreal,” said Seymour.




An official in the first lady’s office said Seymour was chosen because his story served as a “source of inspiration” for other Indian youths. But Seymour speculated that there was another reason.

“I’ve been told they did a background check and they looked at our social media,” he said. “And I luckily only have Facebook and I don’t post anything vulgar, inappropriate or like just stupid stuff people post these days.”

Seymour was one of five Indian youths from across the nation cited as a 2015 “champion for change” by the Center for Native American Youth, an award that recognizes youths who are making a difference in their communities. Center officials noted that while most adults are uncomfortable talking about such issues as sexual abuse and suicide, Indian youth leaders are tackling the issues head on.

Seymour, whose parents divorced when he was 6 years old, said he didn’t want to discuss specifics of his father’s suicide. But he said the act of violence leaves survivors suffering.

Growing up, he said, he has learned that “you only get out of this world what you put in,” but he said he doesn’t want to judge others who struggle. He said many Indian kids are growing up in homes where parents are fighting and the children aren’t getting enough sleep or food.

“High school’s tricky,” he said. “You never really know what someone’s going through.”


Seymour said his application for the award focused on keeping culture alive through traditional sports. As part of his project, he has lined up 11 other teens to help him paddle canoes in races.

“What paddling is doing for us is getting us stronger – obviously physically, but also mentally, spiritually and emotionally,” he said. “It’s just beautiful.”

Seymour said paddling comes naturally to him, with the tradition strong on both sides of his family.

He said his father, a Canadian Indian who was in his early 30s when he committed suicide, was a champion paddler.

“He was a phenomenal man, and I’d like to carry out his name and his spirit through paddling. . . . I feel like paddling is only one of the few things that I have left of him,” Seymour said.

Some of Seymour’s friends from Bellingham, who are also in the nation’s capital this week as part of various tribal youth events, said Seymour has come a long way.

“I’ve known Hammi my whole life – he’s our baby,” said Sarah Scott, 21, a mentor for the Lummi Nation’s tribal youth recreation program. “In the last year, he’s just blossomed into this natural leader on a national platform, and to me that is just so inspiring.”


William Lucero, 18, another member of the Lummi Nation, said it was remarkable to watch Seymour get a hug from the first lady.

“I was jealous,” he said. “It’s so cool.”

Seymour, who will be a junior at Mount Baker High School in Deming, Wash., this fall, said it was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” to share the stage with Michelle Obama.

“I didn’t know she was that tall,” he said.

When an announcer called his name, saying it was time to introduce the first lady of the United States, Seymour said he temporarily lost his breath.

“I took one step and I felt all the oxygen just leave my body,” he said. “I got told to take three deep breaths. I did that, but my heart was pumping. It was just so great.”

Seymour figures his life is looking pretty bright, too.

“I can’t tell the future, but I’m really hoping, and I really feel like it’s going to be great,” he said.


Read more here:

Ancient canoe exhibit inspires thousands at Chickasaw Cultural Center

Chickasaw Cultural Center Director of Operations Brad Deramus admires a huge dugout canoe dating to approximately 1500 A.D. It is on loan to the center from the Department of Mississippi Archives and History to augment the world-class Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas currently on display through May 6, 2015, at the Sulphur, Oklahoma, location.
Chickasaw Cultural Center Director of Operations Brad Deramus admires a huge dugout canoe dating to approximately 1500 A.D. It is on loan to the center from the Department of Mississippi Archives and History to augment the world-class Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas currently on display through May 6, 2015, at the Sulphur, Oklahoma, location.


By: Chickasaw Nation


SULPHUR, Okla. – They were the metaphorical pickup trucks of their day. Native Americans used them to ferry families across rivers, move trade goods to market and a means of travel.

Dugout canoes were difficult to fashion into water-worthy vessels. All were made from a single tree trunk, fire coals placed atop it and then the charred wood was hollowed out with an adze or similar sharp-edged tool made of stone, sea shells and, eventually, metal.

In 2000, a group of Florida high school students stumbled onto what is believed to be the largest treasure trove of dugout canoes in the world – 101 of them dating from 500 to 5,000 years old, according to experts.

That discovery gave birth to Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas, a world-class exhibit on display at the Chickasaw Cultural Center through May 6, 2015.

More than 9,700 people have experienced the exhibit as of Nov. 1. An additional 6,000 have admired a Mississippi vessel displayed away from the main dugout canoe exhibit which is estimated to be 514 years old.

Window blinds are drawn almost like a secret is hidden in the Aapisa Art Gallery at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

The lights are dimmed too, along with a sign warning visitors not to touch – a departure from many exhibits more than 300,000 people have enjoyed since the center’s opening in 2010.

Director of Operations Brad Deramus swings open the door and extends an invitation to step foot inside and behold an item made in 1500 A.D., discovered intact and preserved from a swamp in the Mississippi Delta.

Most likely the immense 26-foot long dugout canoe was made by Chickasaws.

“Think George Washington’s great-great-grandfather,” Deramus remarks to illustrate the age of the ancient vessel.

It was discovered in Steele Bayou Lake in Washington County, Mississippi, decades ago. It is on loan from the Department of Mississippi Archives and History to augment Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas.

Weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds., it is made from a single bald cypress tree and is manufactured in the ancient Chickasaw tradition. It is the perfect complement to Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas, a display thrilling adults and children, Deramus said. Interactive kiosks, art endeavors, ancient canoes and signs abound encouraging visitors to touch many of the displayed items.

A 400-year-old pine tree dugout canoe, along with tools dating to 600 A.D. and remnants of some of the 101 dugout canoes discovered by the students are included in the exhibit. Many of the display items are hands-on. Some of the more ancient items are behind glass enclosures. CCC cultural experts are on hand to assist visitors who have questions.

While none of the 101 dugout canoes discovered by the Gainesville, Florida, students in drought-stricken Newnans Lake 14 years ago are displayed, remnants of some of the ancient vessels are at the Chickasaw Cultural Center to be enjoyed.

In fact, while some of the canoes discovered by students are fully intact, most were left in place at Newnan’s Lake because excavating them would prove destructive after centuries of protection by water and mud.

About American Indian Heritage Month

Efforts to establish a time to honor Native American Heritage began as early as 1916, when the governor of New York officially declared “American Indian Day” in May of that year. Since that time, a number of states have designated specific days or weeks to celebrate Native American heritage. Since 1976, Congress and the president have designated a day, a week or a month to honor American Indian and Alaska Native people. November has been set aside for the celebration since 1991, when a Senate Joint Resolution was passed authorizing and requesting the president to proclaim each month of November thereafter as “American Indian Heritage Month.”


Sophisticated 600-year-old canoe discovered in New Zealand

This turtle was carved on the hull of a 600-year-old canoe found in New Zealand. Turtles are rare in pre-European Maori art. The engraving might be a nod to the Maori's Polynesian ancestors, who revered the seafaring reptiles. (Tim Mackrell, Conservation Laboratory, The University of Auckland)
This turtle was carved on the hull of a 600-year-old canoe found in New Zealand. Turtles are rare in pre-European Maori art. The engraving might be a nod to the Maori’s Polynesian ancestors, who revered the seafaring reptiles. (Tim Mackrell, Conservation Laboratory, The University of Auckland)

By Megan Gannon,

Sophisticated oceangoing canoes and favorable winds may have helped early human settlers colonize New Zealand, a pair of new studies shows.

The remote archipelagos of East Polynesia were among the last habitable places on Earth that humans were able to colonize. In New Zealand, human history only began around 1200-1300, when intrepid voyagers arrived by boat through several journeys over some generations.

A piece of that early heritage was recently revealed on a beach in New Zealand, when a 600-year-old canoe with a turtle carved on its hull emerged from a sand dune after a harsh storm. The researchers who examined the shipwreck say the vessel is more impressive than any other canoe previously linked to this period in New Zealand. [The 9 Craziest Ocean Voyages]

Separately, another group of scientists discovered a climate anomaly in the South Pacific during this era that would have eased sailing from central East Polynesia southwest to New Zealand. Both findings were detailed Sept. 29 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Canoe on the coast

The canoe was revealed near the sheltered Anaweka estuary, on the northwestern end of New Zealand’s South Island.

“It kind of took my breath away, really, because it was so carefully constructed and so big,” said Dilys Johns, a senior research fellow at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

The hull measured about 20 feet long and it was made from matai, or black pine, found in New Zealand. The boat had carved interior ribs and clear evidence of repair and reuse. Carbon dating tests showed that the vessel was last caulked with wads of bark in 1400.

Johns and colleagues say it’s likely that the hull once had a twin, and together, these vessels formed a double canoe (though the researchers haven’t ruled out the possibility that the find could have been a single canoe with an outrigger). If the ship was a double canoe, it probably had a deck, a shelter and a sail that was pitched forward, much like the historic canoes of the Society Islands (a group that includes Bora Bora and Tahiti) and the Southern Cook Islands. These island chains have been identified as likely Polynesian homelands of the Maori, the group of indigenous people who settled New Zealand.

The boat was surprisingly more sophisticated than the canoes described centuries later by the first Europeans to arrive in New Zealand, Johns told Live Science. At the time of European contact, the Maori were using dugout canoes, which were hollowed out from single, big trees with no internal frames. In the smaller islands of Polynesia, boat builders didn’t have access to trees that were big enough to make an entire canoe; to build a vessel, therefore, they had to create an elaborate arrangement of smaller wooden planks.

The newly described canoe seems to represent a mix of that ancestral plank technology and an adaptation to the new resources on New Zealand, since the boat has some big, hollowed-out portions but also sophisticated internal ribs, Johns and colleagues wrote.

The turtle carving on the boat also seems to link back to the settlers’ homeland. Turtle designs are rare in pre-European carvings in New Zealand, but widespread in Polynesia, where turtles were important in mythology and could represent humans or even gods in artwork. In many traditional Polynesian societies, only the elite were allowed to eat turtles, the study’s authors noted.

Shifty winds

A separate recent study examined the climate conditions that may have made possible the long journeys between the central East Polynesian islands and New Zealand. Scientists looked at the region’s ice cores and tree rings, which can act like prehistoric weather stations, recording everything from precipitation to wind patterns to atmospheric pressure and circulation strength. [10 Surprising Ways Weather Changed History]

Because of today’s wind patterns, scholars had assumed that early settlers of New Zealand would have had to sail thousands of miles from East Polynesia against the wind. But when the researchers reconstructed climate patterns in the South Pacific from the year 800 to 1600, they found several windows during the so-called Medieval Climate Anomaly when trade winds toward New Zealand were strengthened.(That anomaly occurred between the years 800 and 1300.)

“There are these persistent 20-year periods where there are extreme shifts in climate system,” the study’s head author, Ian Goodwin, a marine climatologist and marine geologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, told Live Science. “We show that the sailing canoe in its basic form would have been able to make these voyages purely through downwind sailing.”

Goodwin added that a downwind journey from an island in central East Polynesia might take about two weeks in a sailing canoe. But the trip would take four times that if the voyagers had to travel upwind.

Return of the Old One: Historical Society Repatriates Samish Canoe to Tribe

Richard WalkerSamish Nation cultural director Rosie Cayou James presents a string of smoked clams strung on sinew to Mary Jean Cahail, president of the San Juan Historical Society, June 28. The Old One can be seen in the background.
Richard Walker
Samish Nation cultural director Rosie Cayou James presents a string of smoked clams strung on sinew to Mary Jean Cahail, president of the San Juan Historical Society, June 28. The Old One can be seen in the background.


Richard Walker, 7/9/14, Indian Country Today


Ownership of a Samish canoe, believed to date from pre-contact, has been formally transferred to the Samish Indian Nation from the San Juan Island Historical Society & Museum in Friday Harbor, Washington.

Samish has cared for the canoe since 2011, when the historical society began construction of a new exhibit space. As the exhibit space neared completion, Samish requested that the canoe, which is in fragile condition, be repatriated in exchange for new cultural items that the museum can more easily care for and use to teach the history of the island’s Indigenous Peoples. The museum board approved the proposal and the transfer took place June 28. Among those present were people from Nooksack, Saanich, Swinomish, as well as Samish.

In a ceremony at Samish’s Fidalgo Bay Resort in Anacortes, Washington, Samish Chairman Tom Wooten and museum board president Mary Jean Cahail signed a memorandum of agreement. The canoe, which rests on a cradle made by Samish artist David Blackinton, was carried in by eight men while Samish singers offered a paddle song. The canoe was carried once around the gathering hall, then placed in the middle of the room on blankets that had been laid out earlier. Witnesses were called. A name was bestowed on the canoe: S7alexw, which means “The Old One.”

The Old One will rest on its cradle in the gathering hall, suspended from the ceiling by cedar cordage being made by Samish general manager Leslie Eastwood.

Among the items presented to the museum: a hand drum, made by Blackinton; twined yellow cedar, made by Eastwood; a cedar hat, made by 15-year-old Samish Nation citizen Madisen Cork; smoked clams strung on sinew, by Samish cultural director Rosie Cayou James; a video on Samish history; and CDs of Samish music and oral histories.

Wooten told ICTMN that the canoe’s repatriation is mutually beneficial: “The canoe belongs here [at Samish],” he said. “And we’re able to share part of our culture [with the museum]. It’s a win-win.” He said the agreement with the San Juan Historical Society “sets the tone” for future repatriation work. Samish is working on the repatriation of cultural property from the Paul H. Karshner Memorial Museum in Puyallup. In 2005, a 150-year-old house post from the last Samish longhouse on Guemes Island was returned to Samish from the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. It now stands in the entrance to the gathering hall, not far from the Old One.

The island’s First Peoples will be included in the museum’s permanent exhibit on island industries, among them fishing. Museum board member Don Nixon said materials and technology used in fishing during the settlement and post-settlement period of 1850 to 1950 became more sophisticated, “but all the techniques were there already,” having been used for centuries by the island’s First Peoples.

Witnesses said the Old One is like a gift from the ancestors, an ancient reminder of their identity as Samish people and as a canoe culture; an ancient reminder of the sacredness of the cedar tree, which gave its life to be carved by an ancestor into a canoe.

“We were taught not to expect to be rich, but to be happy with who we are,” said John Cayou, Swinomish. “It’s important to show the ancestors how much you cherish what’s been left.”

George Adams, Nooksack, said of the Old One, “I’m glad it has reached home to inspire the people here. And I’m glad for the foresight of the museum, for knowing this canoe comes from the heritage of our ancestors.”



Squaxin Council Issues Quick Apology On Deer Killed By Canoers In Tribal Waters

Andy Walgamott, Northwest Sportsman

Reacting quickly to a disturbing video showing two canoeloads of men and a woman pursuing and killing a blacktail buck swimming in tribal waters of southern Puget Sound earlier this week, the Squaxin Tribal Council issued an apology, saying it is “deeply saddened” by the footage and called the chase “entirely improper and contrary” to its tribal beliefs and teachings.

The 12-plus-minute video surfaced on Facebook at midweek, shows one crewmember take a single swipe at the deer with his paddle, two others diving in to capture the animal, and then the apparent slitting of its throat alongside one of the two long cedar canoes.

It was shared around, a copy was made and posted to YouTube. We describe more about it here.

The council’s statement reads:

An Apology from Squaxin Island Tribal Council on Recent Events in the taking of a deer in Squaxin Island Waters.

“Recently, video footage of tribal people taking inappropriate actions in the taking of a deer in Squaxin Island Tribal waters came to the attention of the Squaxin Island Tribal Council. The Council is deeply saddened by the events depicted in the video, and wishes to make clear that such actions will not be tolerated, now or in the future. The actions of the individuals involved are entirely improper and are contrary to the beliefs and teachings of the Squaxin Island Tribe. The matter has been referred to the proper law enforcement agencies and the Tribe will take appropriate steps to address the actions of the individuals involved. As a Tribe, we are sorry that these actions occurred, and will take all steps necessary to see that they are not repeated.”

The statement was signed by all seven members of the council.

One of those members, Ray Peters, this morning said that he is a hunter who learned the proper way to harvest game from his family.

“I was always taught to respect animals and to honor what they give us,” he said.

“It was shameful,” Peters said of the “disturbing” video, and termed the deer “defenseless.”

“It does not depict the way we harvest animals,” he said.

Peters says the matter has been turned over to law enforcement.

“We’re not taking this lightly,” he said.

Officials are trying to identify the people involved. Peters said that while the canoes appear to be Squaxin craft, their paddlers’ tribal memberships have yet to be fully confirmed.

Mike Cenci, the deputy chief of enforcement for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, says that a search warrant was served on the pickup of one of the individuals — the man who allegedly slit the buck’s throat — at the man’s residence in another county.

Deer remains were found in a tote in the vehicle, he said. The truck was also seized.

He stressed that that man was “not affiliated with the Squaxin Tribe,” and that he was “well outside” his tribe’s ceded area.

Anyway, there is no tribal or state deer hunting season in that area that is currently open, he said.

And just as Peters was, Cenci was disturbed by the cruel pursuit and killing of the exhausted animal out of its element.

“We have a close working relationship with the Squaxin police and tribe. They immediately recognized that this act would negatively detract from a very important cultural event, and have taken it seriously from the moment it occurred,” Cenci noted.

The killing appears to have taken place during a practice run for this year’s traditional tribal canoe journey, coming up in August. The voyages were resurrected at the 100th anniversary of statehood and have continued every summer since. This year’s culminates at the Quinault Indian Reservation; First Lady Michelle Obama may attend.

The video sparked revulsion where it was originally posted on Facebook as well as on Hunting Washington, where it also stirred debate.

Indians 101: Tulalip Canoes (Photo Diary)

By Ojibwa for Native American Netroots

For the Salish-speaking tribes of the Washington coast, canoes were traditionally not only their most important form of transportation, they were also cultural icons. The Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve honors the Tulalip (Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and others) cultures.

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The importance of canoes to the Tulalip peoples is evident in the Hibulb Culture Center. The canoe theme shown in the windows above is repeated throughout the Center.

Canoes were made by hollowing out a single log with fire and adzes. By filling the hollowed out log with hot water, the canoe makers could then widen the canoe by forcing stout cross-pieces between the gunwales.

Carving a canoe begins with spiritual preparation: the carvers must prepare themselves with fasting, prayers, and the sweatlodge. It is not uncommon for the task of carving a large canoe to take two years. Once the log is chosen, a prayer is said for the cedar and an offering is given to thank it for its sacrifice.

The final stage in carving the canoe involves the use of hot rocks and water to steam-bend the sides outwards. This steaming also draws the bow and stern upwards as well as adding strength to the vessel. For the large ocean-going canoes, the prow and stern pieces are added last, the thwarts and seats are installed, and the exterior is finished. Then the canoe is given a name and is ready to begin its life on the water.

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Three canoes are displayed in the Center.

River Canoe:

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The river canoe shown above was carved about 1880 by William Shelton. It was restored by the Tulalip Tribes Carving and Arts Department.

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The bow of the canoe is shown above.

Small Canoe:

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This small canoe was carved about 1930 from a single log by William Shelton.

Ocean-Going Canoe:

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This canoe was made about 1880 as part of a wedding dowry. The canoe was built by the bride’s family from the Quinault Nation and given to the Tulalip groom is a wedding present.

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Shown above is a detail of where the mast would have been placed. Sails, prior to the arrival of the Europeans, were made from woven mats.

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The canoe was made from hollowing out a single large cedar log. The sides were then spread apart and the bow and stern pieces were then added.

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The bow is shown above.

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The stern of the canoe is shown above. The stern piece was added to the dugout form.

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The photograph above shows the additional piece which was added to the gunnels.

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The photograph above shows how the thwarts (i.e. seats) were attached.

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