Paddle to Lummi 2019
Paddle to Lummi 2019. Photo by Kiley Barbero

Canoes on the move across the Salish Sea for the Paddle to Lummi

This week marks the start of a very special cultural celebration here in the Pacific Northwest: Paddle to Lummi: Sqweshenet Tse Schelangen/”Honoring our way of Life.” The Lummi Nation near Bellingham, WA will be welcoming and hosting the annual tribal canoe journey from July 24-28. Canoe families from tribes across Western Washington, Canada, Alaska, and beyond will travel the ancestral highways of the Coast Salish people to arrive for the main landing at Lummi on Wednesday, July 24. 

This Paddle to Lummi travel map shows the dates of hosting along the route at different tribal lands

The following five days will hold a traditional potlach celebration, which features the sharing of meals and gifts by Lummi Nation and the traditional songs, dance and prayers from each visiting tribe. The Lummi Nation is expecting 10,000 visitors and over 100 canoe families coming to their shores, with the farther families beginning their journey to Lummi on July 2. 

The modern canoe journey is a revival of the traditional mode of transportation for Coast Salish people. It began in 1989 with Paddle to Seattle as part of Washington State’s Centennial, in celebration of the Centennial Accord which recognized tribal sovereignty in Washington State. Now a new Nation is selected every year to host the Canoe Journey and the multitudes of canoe pullers, crews, youth and elders that come for the annual celebration. 

The journey honors the rich traditions of Coast Salish tribes of the Northwest, who travel the waters to meet and gather for trade, ceremony, and celebration. Canoe Journey holds special significance to Coast Salish Tribes as it truly honors and nourishes the unique relationships and connections with the land, water, and one another. “
Lummi Nation

Photo courtesy of the Paddle to Lummi Facebook group

Paddle to Lummi is free and open to the public and offers a chance for non-tribal members to learn more about and honor the culture of the Coast Salish people who inhabited this land long before white colonization began. The main canoe landing will take place on July 24th, with celebrations continuing at the Lummi Wex’liem Center until the 28th.


North Cascades Institute is proud to be a community sponsor of the Paddle to Lummi this year.

You too can support this important event:

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