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Muckleshoot Indian Tribe hosts Canoe Journey for first time in 17 years

The event will bring 120-130 canoes onto the Alki shore

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Some canoe families will be traveling more than a hundred miles as they travel from all parts of the Pacific Northwest.

Photo by Kenneth John Gill

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Alki will see some big action this weekend as more than 100 canoes land on the beach for the first Inter-Tribal Canoe Journey since 2019.

The annual festival — titled this year Paddle to Muckleshoot — is organized by Indigenous tribes from across the Puget Sound, as far north as Canada and as far south as Oregon. There have also been occasional appearances from Hawaiian and New Zealand tribes.

Each year, canoe families — a term referring to the canoe’s crew — from the participating tribes paddle from their respective home waters to whichever tribe is hosting the festival. These journeys can sometimes be 100+ miles.

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The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s canoe family arrives at Alki.

Photo via Seattle Municipal Archives

Canoe families make regular pit stops on their way to the final festival location. At each of the stops, they will request to come ashore one by one as was done centuries ago.

This year’s journey started on Sunday, July 23 and will end on Sunday, July 30 before six more days of celebration — based off a tradition known as potlatch — commences.

A little history

The annual tradition was started back in 1989 with “Paddle to Seattle” as a way to fortify traditions that had been previously repressed, and bring the tribal communities together for celebrations.

This the first year the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is hosting the festival since 2006.

Paddle to Muckleshoot

This year’s festival is expected to be especially big since everyone’s been a bit excited for the first post-pandemic return.

The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is expecting 60 different canoe families with more than 120 boats and ~8,000-10,000 people in attendance at the festival.

Each of the potlaches and the final celebrations are open to the public.

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