The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Band brings new canoes to old waters


Lou Marzeles

CANOE CEREMONY: Three canoes were re-introduced to local waters and named in special ceremony at Rock Creek Longhouse Saturday.

A profound sense of sacredness filled the Rock Creek Longhouse Saturday as members of the Kamiltpah Band of the Inchi-Wana held a ceremony to re-introduce and name river canoes back to the waters of the Columbia River and nearby streams.

Three canoes were centered in the cavernous space of the longhouse as tribe members and guests watched the event. "It's to bring the canoes back into the waters and have them introduced to the spirits of the waters," explained Jeremy Takala of the band. The tradition of introducing and naming canoes is an ancient one and filled with numinous significance.

Leslie Geatches.

CANOE CEREMONY: A large crowd of members of the Kamiltpah Band of the Inci-Wana and guests were on hand for the event, which included mutliple generations honoring the band's history and culture.

Each canoe received its own name reflecting the regions of waters and land the tribe occupies. The canoes were meticulously hand-carved from cedar; the three different sizes of canoe were designed to each occupy a specific spiritual function on the water.

After introductory remarks, the band performing a series of sacred songs resembling keening in its intensity and volume but aimed at sanctifying the canoes.

"This is a very big thing for us," another band member stated. "It connects us with our past and helps us remember and preserve our culture."

After the ceremony, an observer commented that if the world at large could behave with the kind of sacredness observed at the lodge, the world would be a very different place. Also contrasting with contemporary culture was the sense of timelessness in the ceremony, both in terms of connecting with ancient customs and in regard to the common proclivity to a fixed schedule; the day was like a river taking its own course, flowing and stopping as it needed.


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