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Paddle to Squaxin 2012

On July 29, 2012, The Squaxin Island Tribe hosted the 24th annual Canoe Journey, Paddle to Squaxin 2012, an intertribal celebration of Pacific Northwest canoe culture and tradition. More than 100 canoes landed at the Port of Olympia, in Washington state, with thousands of people joining together to welcome each arrival.

Charlene Krise, Squaxin Island Museum Executive Director said, “The power of the canoe journey reaches into the very depths of the spirit, mind and body of our tribal people. The canoe journey is so powerful in helping to revive and empower tribal people. The Squaxin Island Tribe chose to honor the Teachings of Our Ancestors as our guide for Paddle to Squaxin 2012. These teachings are the center of our lives and cultures. Our ancestors teach us that we must care for each other, and the earth because each is a part of our past, present and future.”

For centuries, Pacific Northwest tribal people navigated the waterways in intricately carved dugout canoes. The Salish Sea, the body of water that encompasses Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia in Canada, was the central force that connected canoe cultures for intertribal communication and trade. But early federal government mandates outlawed many tribal traditions, resulting in the almost lost art of canoe building, and ceremonial practices. In 1989, the Canoe Journey event, originally called the “Paddle to Seattle,” was organized as a revival of the canoe culture traditions and the Native American contribution to the Washington State Centennial. Today, tribes from Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and the Seminole Tribe in Florida participate.

The Bella Bella, from British Columbia, traveled more than 1,000 miles over 23 days. As the canoes arrive at the host site on July 29th, each canoe family asked for permission to come ashore, according to their own culture and protocol. Paddles were raised, signifying “We come in peace.”

The Squaxin Island Tribe then hosted a week of traditional potlatch ceremonies and festivities with daily performances by dancers, singers and storytellers. Potlatch ceremonies and performances took place on the Squaxin Island Reservation. The public was welcome but asked to respect ceremonies while in the protocol tent.

The Tribe partnered with the City of Olympia and the Port of Olympia on a transportation and parking plan to accommodate visitors and participants.

For additional information about activities in the surrounding Olympia and Thurston County area, visit,
Olympia | Lacey | Tumwater Convention Bureau website,
or call Toll-free: 1-877-704-7500; or (360) 704-7544.


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Native American Etiquette

Its just good manners

Elders First
Native Americans highly value and respect the wisdom that comes with age. When eating, children and young adults serve the elders who always eat first. Never step ahead of someone in line who might be older than you, as this is considered very rude behavior.

Gift Giving in Native American Culture
Native Americans are generous and thoughtful gift-givers. The richest people are those who are willing to give away everything they own.  During potlatch ceremonies, the gift-giving may go on for several days. Gifts are usually homemade arts and crafts – made from the heart as a token of love, respect and appreciation.  Sometimes you will be approached by someone who says, “I wish to shake your hand.”  This is a sign of great respect.  Cash will be passed to you quietly.  Don’t count it until you are alone.

Canoes and Regalia
Ethnic regalia  is never called a “costume.” That would be insulting. Regalia is most often worn during sacred ceremonies, but Native Americans often wear traditional accessories as a symbol of pride in their cultural heritage.  Feathers are sacred. If a one falls, do not pick it up. Leave it where it is.

Likewise, canoes are an important part of tribal culture, and are never to be referred to as “boats.”  Doing so will likely cause you to be thrown in the water.

Powwows and other ceremonies
Non-Natives are welcome on the floor during open dances, but some other dances are considered sacred and should be observed with proper reverence.

During the “Two-step” dance, women get to ask a man of their choice out on the floor. If he refuses, he must pay her $5.

Most powwows have a veteran dance and everyone in attendance is asked to rise and remove their hats as a sign of honor and respect.

Just good sense
Do not use clichés around Native Americans such as calling men “Chief,” even in fun.  There really are tribal chiefs, so this would be considered very disrespectful.

Never refer to females as “Squaws,” which is not an Indian word referring to women, but a derogatory one given by non-Indians.

It’s best to avoid Indian jokes, too, just to be on the safe side.

Always ask permission before taking photographs and video. Consider how you would feel in their shoes.

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Indian Country Today Media Network

Indian Country Today Media Network is an excellent source of information on anything and everything of interest to Native Americans, from news, to nation-wide powwow listings ,  sports to genealogy, and economic development to philanthropy.

Ever wonder where to find a Native American college?  This is the place to find it.  How about Native American owned and operated golf courses?  It’s got you covered.

You will even find Native American recipes and health tips.

Indian Country Today Media Network operates out of New York City, but has reporters stationed throughout the United States.

In addition to the website, a magazine is published weekly.  Subscription is only $19.97 for 50 issues (40 cents each) delivered to your door.  Sign up online for yourself or as a gift .

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Northwest Indian News

Northwest Indian News

Northwest Indian Indian News (NWIN) is currently being broadcast into more than 50 million households throughout the United States and Canada.  Episodes can be viewed online and include topics of interest to Native Americans, such as culture, environmental protection, economic development, whaling, and water rights.

The January 2009 episode was hosted at the Squaxin Island Tribe‘s Home of Sacred Belongings Museum Library and Research Center (MLRC).  Please note the large wall murals in the Hall of the Seven Inlets which I designed along with tribal artist Jeremiah George and the Tribe’s Heritage and Culture Committee.

According to the NWIN website, “The very first NWIN program, produced in March of 2003, is still being used as curriculum in public schools and is being broadcast on various television networks, in rotation, along with more recent NWIN episodes. Plans are underway to share NWIN programs with European and Asian audiences in the near future.”

 Jobs for Tribal members
NWIN provides on the job training and employment for tribal members. The following is a list of enrolled tribal members now working as television reporters, producers, photographers and production assistants:

Chenoa Egawa, Lummi
Ronnie Washines, Yakama
Mystique Hurtado, Skokomish / Hupa
Deborah Parker, Tulalip
Doreen Manuel, Secwepemc / Ktunuxa
Morgan Howard, Tlingit
Frank Moxley, Puyallup
Niki Cleary, Tulalip
Fredrick Lane, Lummi
Gene Tagaban, Tlingit
J.D. Mowrer, Tulalip
Jeremiah George, Squaxin Island
Jason Roberts, Makah
Mary Kim Titla, San Carlos Apache

Producer / Photographers
Mark Anderson, Cowlitz
Morgan Howard, Tlingit
Harold Joe, Cowichan.

Production Assistants
Alejandro Mitchell, Navajo
Nitz Hurtado, Skokomish / Hupa

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Native American Veterans

Native American warriors hold places of high honor within their tribes.

Indian people served in the United States military long before they were given United States citizenship. In fact, between 1917 and 1918, over 10,000 American Indian people enlisted into the armed services to serve in World War I. Although this was the greatest number of enlisted people from any one non-Anglo culture, citizenship (with the right to vote) for Native Americans was not granted until 1924. Native Americans account for less than one percent of the total registered population of the United States, yet they provide more military members per capita than any other ethnic group and utilize veterans benefits less than any other group.

The Squaxin Island Tribe’s Veterans’ Memorial began with the inspiration of Bruce Johnson, a beloved tribal member, Vietnam veteran, and leader who passed away in 2003. Bruce spoke out about the need for a memorial as a place to educate tribal members and the public about the tremendous sacrifice of tribal warriors.

Today, Native American warriors are the protectors of the people and land with an important and ongoing role in the life of the tribe. Their presence within the community as heroes is priceless. Squaxin Island veterans are fiercely proud of their service. And the Squaxin Island community is equally proud of their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers who have served, and continue to serve, to keep the peace at home. We believe that now is the time to recognize and pay honor to their service and personal sacrifice, and we ask that you to support us in this cause.

Please take a few moments to view these sites I created for the Squaxin Island Tribe.

Squaxin Island Tribe Veterans’ Memorial
Don’t miss Qawila’s the Warrior.

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Photography Tips

Great photographs immortalize emotions that tug on our heart strings.  Whether it is a beautiful landscape or a crying child, the key is to capture images that speak to our hearts.

Here are some quick tips to help you take great pictures without a lot of technical training:

• Frame your image. Take just a few seconds to check the background.  First make sure there is nothing that could be viewed as offensive to viewers. Then check your position.  Moving a step or two to the left or right might eliminate an unsightly garbage can or some other unsightly diversion.

• Focus on the eyes.  People always make interesting subjects, but if your image is out of focus and blurry, it won’t make as strong an impact. Take a second or two to make sure the eyes “the window to the soul” are in focus.

• Take high resolution images.  Its easy to downsize later, but much more difficult to enlarge.

• Shoot away from sunlight if possible.  Direct sunlight will always interfere with a great shot.

School of Photography offers a great free site with lots of tips, including how to manipulate your images after shooting.

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Kamilche Adventures

Where in the world?  Right here in Washington State!

Take a moment to visit Kamilche Adventures, a site I created for Squaxin Island tribal member and tour guide Jeremy Walls. He has some of the best travel adventures imaginable and is ready and willing to take you on the ride of your life!

The marine waters surrounding Squaxin Island are some of the most pristine in the world.  The island is completely uninhabited and remains in a natural state.

Choose from guided trips in kayaks or traditional tribal canoes offered as day trips or overnight, or pick one of the many guided hikes through our lush rain forests and mountain peaks.

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