A spiritual journey: 310 miles from ancestral waters to the Pacific Ocean

westward journey:  Young members of the N’chi Wanapum family of Warm Springs are pictured here on a practice trip earlier this year west of Celilo Village.

westward journey: Young members of the N’chi Wanapum family of Warm Springs are pictured here on a practice trip earlier this year west of Celilo Village.

A journey has begun where youth and elders grow together developing leaders, revitalizing indigenous cultural knowledge, and really, becoming a family. N’chi Wanapum is a Native Community Canoe Family based on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation where students and teachers learn from each other in a circle of kinship. Their two- to three-week journey, Tribal Community to Community by Way of The Canoe, is a forever life-changing experience for participants.

It starts July 18 and includes stops in Celilo Village, Hood River and Cascade Locks July 19-21, with opportunities for the public to meet the participants, and learn about the journey and its purpose (see schedule).

2013 Canoe Journey Schedule

(Exact times are subject to change)

July 18 — Rock Creek Longhouse

July 19 — Celilo Village

July 20 — Hood River

July 21 — Cascade Locks

July 22 — Fort Vancouver

July 23 — St. Helens

July 24 — West Longview

July 25 — Skamokawa

July 26 — Chinook Point

July 27 — Bay Center

July 28-29 — Shoalwater Bay

July 30 — Ocean Shores Marina

July 31 — Quinault Indian Nation

“N’chi Wanapum sincerely invites you and your families to attend Canoe Journey. Canoe families and Native Nations unite from throughout the Northwest to partake in this monumental event. You will have the honor in witnessing a journey of spirituality and ceremony as we reintroduce the canoe to our people of Warm Springs,” said advisor Jefferson Greene.

The journey is filled with cultural and moral teachings, spirituality, personal healing and growth, according to Greene.

Starting in 1989 with five canoes, the Canoe Journey has grown to near 100 Tribal Canoes annually from throughout the Northwest and beyond.

N’chi Wanapum will depart from their ancestral waters of the Columbia Gorge July 18 and land on the western Washington ocean shores of the Quinault Indian Nation July 31, after 310 miles. Landing will be followed by a week of cultural exchange and feasting amongst the hundreds of tribes in attendance.

“When I first heard of Canoe Journey, I didn’t think it would be a big deal; but once I participated in practices and activities along with it, it let me see life in a different way. It showed me how important family is and also things don’t come easy in life,” said L. Ike-Lopez, 16, of Canoe Journey 2012.

Columbia River Gorge tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation referred to the sacred place as We’Mu; (Kiksht), N’Chi Wana (Ichishkin), and Pabahuudu (Numu).

Relocation in 1855 from the Columbia River Gorge to reservations left thousands-year-old works of art like carvings, basketry, pottery, petroglyphs, structures and canoes among many others along the river where they had resided for thousands of years. One hundred and fifty years later in 2009, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs acquired a 36-foot canoe, which received the name N’chi Wana in March 2010 and currently rests at the Museum at Warm Springs. The intent is to revitalize cultural history and practices and share such education with generations amidst a circle of sobriety and prevention. The N’chi Wanapum Canoe Family has journeyed to the Native Nations of the Makah (2010), Swinomish (2011) and Squaxin Island (2012).

This year, 2013, will be Warm Springs’ fourth Journey, its third year in existence, and the need for help continues to grow.

N’chi Wanapum is fundraising once again to partake in the life-changing experience. N’chi Wanapum’s participation has grown consistently from 39 people in 2010 to 79 in 2012.

It is still the fastest-growing project on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Sixty-four of the Canoe Family members have attained Cold Water Safety and Rescue Training and community participation has grown to over 225 in only three years. This year’s journey will require vehicles for 80 members.

The funds and assets to sustain such a growing group of youth and elders have not been able to keep up with the growth. Cultural gifts and donations are exchanged along the journey amongst host communities and nations followed by their largest giveaway at their final destination. Financial gifts to the project may be made through the project’s fiscal sponsor The Museum At Warm Springs, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Donations are tax-deductible.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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