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Salish Sea Sentinel | September 27, 2022

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Klahoose youth lead project to ‘paddle with ancestors’

Klahoose youth lead project to ‘paddle with ancestors’

Klahoose First Nation has commissioned eighteen new canoe paddles that are etched with the names of ancestors from their village. 

The paddles are being used by the community in this year’s Tribal Journeys to Lummi Nation in Washington State, so that community members make the long trip with ancestors beside them. 

Jodi Simkin, Klahoose’s director of cultural affairs and heritage, said the Paddling With Our Ancestors project was led by youth from the nation who took part in last year’s journey to Pullayup, WA. 

“For many young pullers this time away from the distractions of technology, school and work allowed for lingering conversations and interesting questions to be contemplated,” Simkin said in a written statement. 

“What was it like 150 years ago to move from village to village using only a canoe, and how might we honour the ancestors for whom this was a way of life?” 

Simkin said the youth had Klahoose history on their minds after recent museum repatriations of ancestors’ remains back to the nation. 

“(That) inspired the youth to think of a creative, respectful means that would both acknowledge the ancestors and carry them with us as we make our way to the Lummi,” she said. 

The youth garnered support from Klahoose chief and council as well as elders to go forward on the project. 

 “Each (paddle) is inscribed with the names of ancestors from the first Indian Agent census for the village,” Simkin said. 

“These new paddles will be blessed prior to being used this summer, and as each paddle touches the water, we will be literally Paddling with our Ancestors.”