Cow Creek Umpqua to Team Up with CTCLUSI for Annual Canoe Journey

The Intertribal Canoe Journey returns to the waterways of the Pacific Northwest this summer after three years of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, several Cow Creek Tribal youths will also be participating in the journey.

The Muckleshoot Tribe, located near Auburn outside of Seattle, will host the event, which brings together dozens of canoes paddled by Tribal members from all over Washington, Oregon, Canada and beyond for the multi-day cultural celebration and ceremony.

Teams from Tribes begin paddling from their ancestral homelands at the end of July, many of them starting in the Pacific Ocean. Muckleshoot lands are inland from the Salish Sea around Seattle, so the final landing area will be on Alki Beach in West Seattle on July 30, and then teams will finish the route by land. The celebration takes place on the Muckleshoot Reservation from July 31 to August 6.

The event is also known for its commitment to sobriety. Paddlers exhibit intense physical strength for days to sail their canoes through rough water, so teams are expected to remain sober throughout the journey. Youth teams often participate under a program called Healing of the Canoe, which helps to bond at-risk youth with Indigenous traditions and helps them overcome obstacles.

This spring, the Cow Creek Behavioral Health staff has been in close talks with staff at the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) to discuss fielding a joint team. They worked together to find several Cow Creek Tribal youths, as well as Cow Creek Behavioral Health staff, who will start the canoe journey around July 24 from Jamestown S’Klallam, near Sequim, Washington. CTCLUSI is well known for their traditional canoes. They paired up with Coquille youth in 2016 to form a Healing of the Canoe team for the Intertribal Canoe Journey to Nisqually that year.

Along the way, canoes typically make stops on other Tribes’ homelands, paying respect by asking permission to land. Cow Creek and CTCLUSI’s team plan to make stops along the interior Salish waterways, in places such as Suquamish Tribal lands near Kingston.

Organizers at Muckleshoot expect around 120 canoe teams to participate, with as many as 8,000 visitors at the event. The first Intertribal Canoe Journey was held in 1989.

For more information on registration or about the event, visit