When paddling a canoe, the goal is for pullers to act in unison, Shannon Comenaut said.
“Watch the person in front of you, and paddle with them,” Comenaut said. “The idea is to move together, to have one heart and one mind.”
Comenaut, a Quinault tribal member who lives in Grand Mound, and other members of local tribes taught groups of people to paddle Native American canoes Saturday afternoon at Millersylvania State Park.
The event was hosted by the Chehalis, Nisqually and Puyallup canoe families.
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The canoe families also hosted a $10 salmon and fry bread lunch as a fundraiser for next year’s Canoe Journey, which will be hosted by the Nisqually Indian Tribe.
The most recent Canoe Journey, hosted by the Quinault Indian Nation at Point Grenville, brought hundreds, by land and canoe. The event brought pullers from all over Western Washington and along the Pacific coast.
Trudy Marcellay of the Chehalis Canoe Family said Saturday’s event was more than just a fundraiser for next year’s Canoe Journey — it was a way to celebrate and share traditions. She said this is the first time the canoe families have hosted the Millersylvania State Park event, but she hopes that the celebration will become a tradition.
“We just wanted a time to come out and share our culture,” Marcellay said.
In addition to the lunch and canoe rides, the celebration featured basket weaving, singing and dancing.
Comenaut steered a boat belonging to the Chehalis Tribe. He guided groups of 10 pullers around Deep Lake while singing Quinault and Chehalis songs.
He jokingly warned the pullers not to to call the canoe a boat.
“Calling it a boat is how you get thrown in the water,” he said..
The event was hosted in conjunction with a Washington State Parks “Free Day” — a day when people are allowed to visit state parks without using a Discover Pass or paying a fee.