Hawai'ians strengthen links with hosts of the 2019 Tribal Canoe Journeys

By Piripi Taylor

Waka paddlers from the Hawaiian island of Maui are participating in the 2019 Tribal Canoe Journeys, paddling the Salish coasts of the Pacific North West.

They are one of over 60 canoes that have paddled from Suquamish to Tulalip and from Tulalip to the riverside settlement of Swinomish, totalling nearly 60 miles.  They're here to foster their relationship with this years host tribe of Tribal Canoe Journeys.

Hawaiian leader, Kimokeo Kapuhulehua says, "Tribal journeys has been an interest for a while and so we have a relationship with a few tribes.  One of the tribes is the Lummi tribe."

Their waka ama, Autumn Rose was made here in Washington State out of the multi-purpose cedar tree by Lummi cultural elder Dean Washington.

Kapuhulehua says, "Being up here, it's amazing to know how they use the cedar tree for a dugout, a cedar tree for their hat, a cedar tree for everything, medicine."

Members of the Hawaiian crew of thirteen have raced against teams from the Lummi tribe at Waka Ama World Sprints. 

Hawaiian crew member Darren Rabago says he is looking forward to "getting to meet other ocean people that live and breathe on the ocean and get the things that keep them alive here".

Kapuhulehua says that his message to the tribal peoples here is simple.

"Preserve your language, preserve your culture.  Pass on your language to your children and our culture, your culture, all our indigenous cultures will be preserved if they preserve the language" he says.

Next year the group is looking at hosting a Gathering of Double Hull canoes in Wailea, Maui. However the focus right now is on the next leg of the paddle to Lummi, from Swinomish to Samish.