Indigenous Moment

A couple months ago @LaWanna, @raybennett and I had a long discussion about all matters indigenous. That came to mind yesterday when I was kayaking around the mouth of the Nisqually.

When coming back to the launch point, there was a crowd on the beach and a canoe similar to those pictured in the linked article:

Getting closer to shore, I could see a large group of Nisqually loading up a canoe with a bunch of small children and a few adults. Everyone got a wooden paddle. I was in no hurry so I just floated off shore and enjoyed the show. After getting all the kids on board the leader directed everyone to lean to the right so they could draw enough water to shove off. And off they went.

The canoe (don’t call it a boat!) Was a couple hundred yards off shore when one of the moms on the beach started waiving a paddle over her head and yelling, “Hey, you forget your paddle”. I had just landed in the spot the canoe had vacated, so I told her, “I can take it out to them”. So I picked up a wooden paddle with native decorations and the words “Nisqually Pride” painted on and headed back out to open water. (The orcas had passed through earlier, so no worries.) The canoe turned back towards me and I maneuvered to get close enough for a moving paddle handoff. All very synchronized.

Back on shore, one of the dads asked me jokingly if I wanted to shuttle more stuff out to the canoe. Tempting as that was, by then my boat was back on the truck, so some other time … He also shared with me that the canoe they were using had paddled around Alcatraz in an event they joined in a previous year.

The beauty of this moment for me was I was just being myself and the Nisqually were just being Nisqually. It’s possible to spin theories out of moments like that, but honestly, I think the scene speaks best for itself.

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Yes, the scene/your story speaks for itself, but I can’t resist spinning just one little theory :slightly_smiling_face: The way the Vietnamese call it the “American War” (rather than Vietnam War), maybe the Nisqually called it a piq-sqe moment (Salish for ‘white person’ or ‘non-Indian, non-indigenous.’ The traditional language of the Nisqually was Southern Lushootseed, a variety of the Salish language). Given how sweetly smooth the paddle handoff seems to have gone, I might call it a xwsuhbuhd ( Skagit-Nisqually for “honey”) moment!

Thanks for sharing this. I got to read the article you linked to and revisit Salish history (and language) and canoe culture in other articles. When I lived oceanside in CA., I commissioned a hoop drum made by the Salish as they were known for making skin drums that lost less of their tone in ocean climes.

What do you think they were fishing for? Schuhdadx (salmon)? S’axwu (clams)? (And that’s the end of my language learning and lesson!)

They weren’t fishing at all, Just a day at the beach. Of course, the DNR boat launch and the nature reserve at the mouth of the Nisqually are very directly adjoining tribal land, and they fish those waters all the time. But this was more about teaching young children how to paddle.

Can’t say that I’ve picked up any Lushootseed (the Nisqually were all speaking English anyway), but I have added this to my playlist:

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