The Journeys to Makah 2010 was an event designed to promote Indigenous cultural knowledge: acknowledging inter-tribal connections, honouring elders, and the combination of physical, spiritual, and mental well-being in all participants. The Makah Tribal Council, along with the Makah Canoe Society, hosted the 2010 Tribal Journeys and invited all participants to Makah Territory in Neah Bay, WA – the furthest northwest tip on the lower 48 United States.
Every tribe and canoe attending the 2010 Tribal Journey presented their own songs and dances, along with their own tribal words of wisdom and stories, including stories about how climate change is affecting them in their everyday lives. Here, Alaskan student Janelle Pootoogooluk shares her experience of Tribal Journeys to Makah.
By Janelle Pootoogooluk
Tribal Journeys 2010 was so much fun. It was a great experience. I met a whole lot of people I will always remember. I made a lot of good memories, had some good laughs, and faced some fears.
In the beginning of it all, I was doubting the whole trip, but I am really glad I didn’t give up. I’m very proud of myself for what I have done. When I first went on the canoe, I was so afraid of it I said I would never do it again. But as we were a part of Tribal Journeys, and after meeting some people I ended up trying it again. At first I was scared to be in it again, but after Robin talked to us and told us how to canoe I felt a little better.
After that one day of practice we went out the next day to paddle to our next campsite. I was nervous about the trip, but in the ending I was so excited and happy I did it. I had the chance to get off the canoe and go to camp, but I chose to stay … The reason for that was because I told myself I needed to finish what I started, and my mom always told me not to quit. Even though I was so sore and in so much pain from paddling, I set my mind on not quitting, and it worked.
Every time I would get scared, our skipper Wes would start singing and that would calm me down. I’m so glad I got to meet him, he is one amazing person. On this trip I learned that no matter where you come from, there is always someone to welcome you, and to make you feel like you’re at home. I also learned a lot more about respect. Respect for people, land, and culture.
Every day on Tribal Journeys we would have Protocol, I loved it. I really enjoyed hearing new songs, and seeing different clothing and dancing. I had so much fun joining in on some of their songs. I met a lot of people from different places. It was so much fun meeting everyone and getting to know them, and hanging out with them. I already miss everyone I met, and it’s been just a few days. I really hope to see them all again soon.
During protocol we talked about how we are being affected by climate change, a lot of people didn’t seem to know that. It really shocked me to see how much people didn’t know about where we came from, so I was really glad to let them know that we are out there. And that we are being affected by climate change and there is something they can do about it. I also know that I can do something too, I learned that just a little bit helps.
I didn’t know that Greenland was being affected that bad, and it made me think of how many other places are being affected also.
Being on this trip made me learn a lot about myself. I learned that I really love trees, I didn’t know that before because where I am from, we don’t have trees, and when I am to live on my own, I know that I want to live where there are a lot of trees. I also learned that if I don’t quit, then in the end I will be pretty proud of myself, and if I just put my mind to one thing than I can actually do it, and I cant always say I cant do something, because I can.
I learned to be more confident in myself when it comes to trying new things. One of my fears was performing in front of people, but once I got used to it, it wasn’t really that hard. It was pretty cool; there were a lot of people who enjoyed our presentation. I was amazed on how much people were interested in the NYO games, I didn’t think they would like it, but in the end they loved it, and they wanted to learn how to do them. It was a lot of fun seeing a lot of people, try to do the games.
Now that this trip is over, I realised that even though I don’t like doing something, it still has to be done. Like setting up camp all the time, I didn’t really enjoy that, but even though I didn’t like it, I still had to do it because we all had to work together.
I’m so happy I got to get to know the people from Greenland more. Being in the canoe brought us all closer; it really did feel like a family. We were all there for one another, and we all cared of each other like a family does. Now ever time I hear the song ‘OMG’ I will always think of them, and remember all the fun times we all had. I really hope to come back to this trip again next summer, because it was one amazing experience.
Janelle’s video journal