Crowd gathers in Juneau to welcome Celebration canoes

    (Photo by Kevin Allen/KINY)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Canoes landed at Auke Rec Tuesday afternoon following their week-long journey to Juneau.

    The group consisted of canoes from Juneau, Kake, Haines, and the Interior.

    We spoke with Liz Medicine Crow regarding their journey. She said they started at Keex Kwaan on May 30th, their first overnight camp was at Wilson Cove. They then arrived at Angoon on the 31st where they also overnighted.

    There was strong weather that impacted the Journey on Monday.

    "It was blowing southeast. We're coming up Chatham so we were bucking some whitecaps, and then we came around, we had to be towed because it got too dangerous. So we had to be towed, and came around point retreat, and then from point retreat to our last campsite last night over on Admiralty island on the northeast side," she said. "We were just fighting, fighting the tide the whole way."

    Liz Medicine Crow aboard the Keex Kwann as it comes into Auke Rec.

    "The wind and the tide gave us some good chops," she said. "You know when you're canoeing with a full team of people, and it looks like you haven't passed one rock for 20 minutes? We're like just barely holding our own here, so we scrambled the canoes and we switched some people over so that our canoes had enough balance to get us all the way through."

    Also joining the group was the first full youth canoe with students from Goldbelt Heritage Foundation.

    Medicine Crow said the Jade Ann was their safety vessel, it joined the Lady Louise during the landing at Auke Rec. She said the journey was about 135 miles.

    "This is to imitate what our ancestors used to do when they would travel from community to community," Lyle James explained. "They will come in and they would do a call and they would announce who they are before they come to shore to the hosts, and the host in this case were the Auk Kwann people."

    Auk Kwann spokesperson, Fran Houston, said the tradition must be kept alive.

    "We're trying to. We got to keep this alive because if we don't, it's lost. As long as there are people out there that can do that and keep it going, it will be fantastic," she said."

    Fran Houston and Auk Kwann members singing as canoes come into view.

    Houston thanked those that helped organize and support the event.

    "And that's what it's all about, we need to support one another. So gunalchéesh to all of those individuals that helped make it possible, and I feel that from the bottom of my heart, it worked out to be a fantastic event."

    Southeast Native Veterans held a flag folding ceremony honoring Richard Calvin, who was slated to be on the veteran canoe journey, but passed away about four days before the journey started.

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