From 15 through 19 June, the Chinook Indian Nation will travel down the Lower Columbia River Water Trail in traditional canoes. The route, starting from Ridgefield will include overnight stops in Rainier (Monday), and Cathlamet (Tuesday), Elliott Landing/Pillar Rock (Wednesday), and Chinook County Park (Thursday).
Hosted and organized by the Chinook Council, this is a time for the Council to say "hayu masi (thank you very much)" to the people and the friends of the Chinook Indian Nation. The Chinook Council consists of nine members: Chairman Ray Gardner, Vice-Chairman Sam Robinson, Secretary/Treasurer Peggy Disney and Representatives Marketa Van Patten, Charlie Funk, Jane Wekell, Carol Shepherd, Jeremy Wekell, and Kate Elliott.
The Chinook People and their friends will spend four days travelling down the Lower Columbia River Water Trail. This will be a celebration of the great river, Yakaitl-Wimakl, which is still home to many Chinooks today. This journey will include the chairman’s family canoe, Itsxut (its-woot, Black Bear), the Snohomish Chairman’s family canoe Sbeqwá (seb-e-quah, Blue Heron), and the tribal canoe Klmin (keth-min, moon) - gifted to the Chinooks by the descendants of Capt. William Clark in 2011.
After spending Sunday night in the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, the Chinook will head to the Ridgefield Marina and place all the canoes in the water to begin the journey. As the canoes travel down the river, Chinook families will host dinner and provide shelter for the travelers, much in the way of their Ancestors. This week of sharing and commemoration will culminate in paddling down to Chinook Point on Thursday afternoon to assist in the preparation for Friday’s private Annual Chinook Nation First Salmon Ceremony at Chinook Point.
The Chinook Indian Nation consists of the Cathlamet, Clatsop, Lower Chinook, Wahkiakum, and Willapa tribes. Despite being an influential tribe in this region since time immemorial, the US Government does not recognize the Chinooks as a tribal nation. The US Senate shelved the 1851 Tansey Point Treaty agreements with the Chinook because the negotiated treaties did not move them east of the Cascades.1 The Chinook continue their fight for federal restoration today.
"We would like to extend an invitation to the leaders of each area we stop, and the media, to witness and report this historical event - either in part or in entirety," said Kate Elliott, Councilwoman Chinook Indian Nation and Chair, Communications Committee.