Olympia Historical Society at Canoe Journey

Anne Kilgannon, Secretary

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photo from Department of Natural Resources

For many OHS members, the film showing of Canoe Way: The Sacred Journey, followed by a presentation and discussion session by Philip Red Eagle, a founder of the Canoe Way of Knowledge twenty years ago, was the real opening of our own journey of understanding. The event held at the State Capitol Museum on July 17 deepened our appreciation for the tremendous cultural and spiritual movement expressed as Canoe Journey and helped prepare volunteers to participate in the welcoming to Olympia shores of the hundreds of paddlers.

Olympia Historical Society (OHS) teamed with the State Capitol Museum to host a tent at the Canoe Landing site on July 29. Perfect weather only heightened the excitement as we did our part to welcome the huge crowd of families, friends and supporters there to greet the paddlers and open a week of festivities and ceremonies to be held at Squaxin Island.

The focus of our table exhibit drew its inspiration from the work of Shanna Stevenson, Ed Echtle, Drew Crooks and others to uncover the Native American histories of many sites in Olympia, too often forgotten or unrecognized. Board member Tim Ransom’s photographs of eight well-known places around town formed the “cover” for accompanying histories “just underneath” that illustrated events and times important to Native American life in this area from the early contact period, American settlement and town building era, and present-day times. The hoped-for message was the story of continuity of Indian life here: “always here, still here,” and the importance of inclusion of all peoples in our work to research and present the history of Olympia.

We will continue this work by co-sponsoring Native American historic sites walking tours in October, created by Shanna Stevenson. These walks-and-talks will begin at the Farmers Market where we will have a table again featuring our exhibit from Canoe Journey. This will be an important opportunity to further engage the community in this journey of inclusion and celebration of Native American history. Watch for upcoming bulletins for details of how to get involved!

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