Hōkūleʻa Continues Engagements with Communities in Southeast Alaska

Since departing Juneau last month, Hōkūleʻa has been sailing through Southeast Alaska, engaging with villages throughout the region. Yesterday afternoon at 5pm Alaska Time (3pm HST) the canoe arrived in Metlakatla after a six-hour journey from Ketchikan. The crew is scheduled to stay in Metlakatla for about two days before departing for Hydaburg. Over the last few days, the canoe received large tribal welcomes from the towns of Wrangell and Ketchikan where they met with communities and participated in cultural and educational exchanges.

While in Ketchikan, July 1-3, the Hōkūleʻa crew was hosted by the Ketchikan Indian Community, the Organized Village of Saxman and Cape Fox Corp. On Saturday, July 1, local tribal citizens paddled the Ketchikan Indian Community canoe X’oots Kuye’ik in Géinaks’ (Ward Cove) to greet Hōkūle’a and her support vessel Kōlea for a ceremonial welcome. That evening the hosts held a “pulling together celebration” and potluck dinner at the Saxman Tribal House in T’éesh Kwáan Xagu (Saxman). The community prepared local dishes including jams, smoked salmon, seaweed, fish stew, herring egg salad and wild asparagus salad. Ketchikan community leaders shared remarks and comments during the dinner.

On Sunday, July 2, Hōkūleʻa crew members gave presentations on the star compass and navigation as well as the mission of the Moananuiākea Voyage at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center.

Prior to Ketchikan, the crew spent three days in Wrangell where they were greeted by hundreds of people on June 27, who gathered along Petroglyph Beach at the northern tip of Wrangell Island. Wrangell canoes paddled out to meet the canoe before raising their paddles in greeting, and escorting Hōkūle‘a and escort vessel Kōlea to the harbor. Once tied up to Wrangell’s floating dock, the crew arrived at Chief Shakes Island to ask permission to land at the X’átgu Hít (Mudshark Clan House) of the Naanyaa.aayí.

Wrangell clan leaders granted permission and then welcomed the crew into the cedar clan house. Clans of the Yéil (Raven) and Ch’áak’ / G̲ooch (Eagle / Wolf) moieties shared songs, dances and stories. The Hōkūle‘a crew shared traditional voyaging songs and a dance. In the evening, the crew welcome and cultural exchange continued at the community’s civic center. Wrangell leaders shared the history of their people and the movement for Alaska native rights including their fight against mining projects that threaten sacred salmon habitats.