Wednesday, October 30, 2013


EP35:  Guest Blog from Producer & Show runner
By Kristy Assu

Kristy Assu on Location in Iskut, B.C.

2012 was the first time that three cultures from different parts of the world were merged to form one canoe family and I was fortunate enough that last year to witness their canoes among 88 others that landed on the shores of Squaxin Island. This was first time the Anishinaabe people from Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Maori from New Zealand participated in Tribal Journeys, and our crew was able to witness the many stages of their adventure. 
Maori Canoe Family
In 2007 an idea was built out of a trade mission between the Maori people and the people of Skokomish to build a replica war canoe. This idea was originally supposed to be to build a model canoe but then the idea got bigger, 20 feet bigger to be exact. This was when the Maori Waka (Maori Watercraft) was started and in 2012 Dr. Takirirangi Smith and a group of Maori traveled back to Washington State to finish what they started so that they could join the Paddle to Squaxin. Dr. Takirirangi Smith along with Skokomish artist and carver John Smith made a plan to finish this canoe on time for the 2012 Paddle to Squaxin and they did just that, but better. They ended up merging the Maori Waka and the Skokomish canoe to form one to signify their unity during this journey. 

Dr Takiri Rangi Smith & John Smith
Our team was also able to catch up with Anishinaabe Canoe Builder Wayne Valier from Lac de Flambeau to witness the final stages of construction of the Birch Bark Canoe. We show Wayne as he prepares the canoe for its first launch into the Ocean in Skokomish that is celebrated from the shore. We were in for a surprise because it was our second season Waterwalk friends, Josephine Mandamin. Tina Kukahn-Miller and Sylvia Plain who would be part of the international canoe family.

Sylvia Plain and Henare Tahuri, with Wayne Valier and Myeengen

Through this journey we saw and traveled with many canoe families but none like the Maori Waka, the Skokomish canoe and the Anishinaabe Birch Bark canoe that all traveled together on this epic journey out to sea. The merging of cultures was definitely a site to see, weather it be on the water, in the carving shed or during protocol where we got to see some of the traditional songs and dances. This episode of Samaqan: Water Stories is definitely a must see. You realize in that moment when you watch the canoe’s as they paddle their way to Squaxin Island, just how similar our cultures from different worlds are, our dances, our stories, our love for nature, our love of the water and our love for one another.

                                      (Our spirit is connected to water ~ Dr. Takirirangi Smith) 

This quote from Dr. Takirirangi Smith in this episode  is something that resonated with me on a personal level. I grew up on the west coast of British Columbia and I’m from a commercial fishing family where life is on the water and still to this day I feel a spiritual connection to water that is hard to explain. This is the same for many First Nations and Aboriginal cultures from all across the globe, especially the ones that participate in Tribal Journeys.

A Birch Bark Canoe in the southern Salish Seas

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