Indian canoeists visit Whidbey
June 25, 2008 · Updated 1:58 PM
"Mary Trevanthan braids her husband Charles' hair before they resume their canoe journey after taking a break at Possession Beach Waterfront Park Friday afternoon.Jim Larsen, staff photoFive canoes filled with members of Indian tribes from throughout Puget Sound stopped by South Whidbey on Friday.The long wooden canoes accompanied by several motorized boats pulled up on the beach at Possession Beach Waterfront Park for a short rest break before resuming a journey that eventually will take them to Canada.Men, women and children, many dressed in traditional attire, piled out of the canoes to stretch their legs or use the park's restrooms. But their stay was short. After about an hour they returned to their paddles.Ray Fryberg from the Tulalip Tribe near Marysville was one of approximately 50 people involved in this stage of the trip, but many more would join them later. He said Puget Sound coastal tribes annually sponsor the canoe event. They started in Puyallup and made several stops before reaching Possession Point. Their next destination was Tulalip, where they would spend two days taking part in traditional tribal ceremonies.The ultimate destination is Vancouver, B.C., which they plan to reach on July 29. By then, they will have picked up many fellow travelers with a total of 80 canoes expected to participate.This is a real family event, Fryberg said. We get to live our culture every day for three weeks. Fryberg knows Whidbey Island well. He said his family lived near Langley before selling out to some early settlers, and he participates in the annual Penn Cove Water Festival in Coupeville.Fryberg encouraged everyone to return to their canoes and one after another they pushed out from shore into the waters of Puget Sound. They chanted as they paddled in near-perfect unison toward deep water, no doubt looking much like their ancestors did hundreds and even thousands of years ago. "